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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida-the man who steered LDP to yet another victory

The Japanese ruling party Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its allies have come back to power with a comfortable win. This allows Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to work on his election pledges of making Japan militarily strong, revive the coronavirus-affected economy and restrengthen measures against Covid-19.

Kishida was elected as the prime minister by the LDP after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga decided to step down a couple of months back. Suga had lost the confidence of voters over his management of the coronavirus pandemic and organising the Olympics despite opposition.

Despite a comfortable win, LDP’s tally has come down from 276 to 259–a loss of 17 seats. Diet–the Japanese parliament has a Lower House with 465 seats.

Japan went to elections after four years on October 31 and the results were declared overnight. Exit polls by Japanese news agency Koyodo which had predicted that the ruling party would be voted back to power have come true.

Some of the important issues before the electorate were the handling of the Covid-19 infection, rising income inequality, kick-starting the pandemic-wrecked economy as well as geo-political tensions in the region.

Kishida as the new Prime Minister has heavily stressed upon building a stronger military for Japan due to threats from China and North Korea. He had said in the election campaign that his party may even double Japan’s defence spending.

On the other hand, the opposition parties have highlighted growing economic disparity between the rich and the poor as well as a poor economy due to the pandemic, says The Asahi Shimbun.

The main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), alleged that the government has mismanaged the Covid-19 response as well as supported the rich classes. It’s campaign issues included gender equality and separate surnames for married couples. The opposition promised lower taxes for the low and middle class and abandoning nuclear energy.

For Kishida, this win restores the party’s confidence in him as well as in his leadership. For the party it means that the LDP completes nine years of uninterrupted rule.

The soft-spoken 64-year-old Kishida comes from a family of politicians from Hiroshima. He followed his father and grandfather into politics and had been eyeing the position of the Prime Minister for a while.

Kishida is well aware of the national and regional challenges that lie before him–which he repeatedly discussed during the election campaign.

Kishida was earlier the LDP’s policy chief and the country’s foreign minister between 2012-17. During his tenure, he negotiated accords with Russia and South Korea, both nations with which Japan has continuing tussles in the region.

On the foreign policy front, he is known for his public stand over abolishing nuclear weapons. He was lauded for bringing the then-US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on a historic visit.

In his personal life, Kishida enjoys baseball as well as drinks. A keen baseball player, he is known to be a big fan of the Hiroshima Carp baseball team. The Tokyo Weekender quotes Kishida as saying: “I love Hiroshima Carp. I love Hiroshima and sake (laughs). Other than that, I have some hobbies, but it’s not a big deal.”

Kishida is known to be a strong drinker. As the foreign minister, he particularly enjoyed holding a competition of vodka and sake with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over diplomatic conversations.

His wife comes from a wealthy business family known for its sake-brewing business.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)

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