Kishida’s Speech at U.S. Congress Hailed by Ruling LDP as Diplomatic Triumph Amid Domestic Criticism from Opposition Parties

Kohei Choji / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington on Thursday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is commending the U.S.-Japan summit talks and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s address at the joint session of the U.S. Congress during his visit to the United States as significant diplomatic achievements. While the opposition parties generally support the deepening of bilateral relations, they are preparing to increase their criticism of the government’s handling of domestic issues.

Regarding the U.S.-Japan summit talks where collaboration in areas like security and space was agreed upon, Kisaburo Tokai, the chairperson of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, told reporters at LDP headquarters on Friday, “We confirmed the strengthening of the U.S.-Japan partnership in various fields. The talks ended very successfully.”

Keiichi Ishii, secretary general of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, said at a press conference, “We demonstrated the strong ties between Japan and the United States to the international community. We continue to expect close cooperation, including between leaders, for regional peace and stability.”

Having garnered several standing ovations, the prime minister’s speech to the U.S. Congress is considered a great success within the Japanese government. Young LDP members hope that the speech “could at least mitigate the current headwinds facing the party, even if it doesn’t significantly improve approval ratings.”

Kenta Izumi, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said at a press conference on Friday that “Japan’s overall diplomatic power was demonstrated.” However, he also expressed concerns about the revision of command and control that would more cohesively integrate the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military, adding, “We must confirm whether Japan can make decisions autonomously.”

Fumitake Fujita, the secretary general of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), said, “We appreciate the confirmation of a strong alliance and the significance of [the United States] being declared our global partner.”

In response to Kishida’s joke during his speech to the U.S. Congress, where he said, “I never get such nice applause from the Japanese Diet,” Jun Azumi, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s Diet affairs chief, said sarcastically, “If [the prime minister] would take leadership in political reform and pursuing scandals, we too would be delighted to give him a standing ovation.”