Wednesday, October 27

Fumio Kishida to replace Suga as Prime Minister of Japan


Asia Correspondent

Updated:

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Change, but with continuity, in the Government of Japan. Following the resignation earlier this month of the prime minister Yoshihide Suga, the party in power has elected this Wednesday as president Fumio Kishida, former Foreign Minister. At the age of 64, he finally assumes the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) and on Monday, thanks to his majority in coalition, he will be inaugurated prime minister by Parliament. His first term will be very short because in November there are general elections, in which his formation starts as a favorite despite the bad image of the Government for having held the Tokyo Olympics in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. But, with the opposition practically non-existent in Japanese politics, everything indicates that Kishida will win and remain prime minister.

Appointed by Suga, the new president of the PLD has imposed in the second round the minister in charge of vaccination in Japan, Taro Kono. After taking only one vote ahead of him in the first round, where the candidates were ruled out Sanae Takaichi y Seiko Noda, Kishida widened the gap in the final head-to-head. According to the Kyodo news agency, he obtained 257 votes compared to 170 for Kono, thus asserting the support he had among the PLD deputies for his continuity character. For his part, Kono was seen as a very popular reformer among his rank and file.

To overcome the economic impact of the coronavirus, Kishida has promised an injection of 30 trillion yen (230,000 million euros). In addition, he has modulated his neoliberal discourse with social democratic proposals to reduce the differences between rich and poor, empower the middle class and help the most disadvantaged, such as workers who do not have permanent jobs and humble families with young children.

End of state of emergency

Kishida, who last year lost the internal vote of the PLD against Suga, takes the reins of Japan as the light begins to be seen after the long epidemic of the coronavirus. This Thursday the state of emergency is finally lifted, in force since April, thanks to the reduction in infections that vaccines have brought after the summer rebounds, especially after the Jolympic games. With this return to normality, the Japanese economy aspires to take flight after the severe blow of the pandemic, which forced the borders to be closed at the beginning of the year and to limit the business hours of restaurants. As of Thursday, restrictions will begin to be lifted and bars will be able to serve alcohol and will not have to close at eight in the afternoon, which had forced the closure of many of them.

Hoping to have left the worst of the coronavirus behind, Kishida aims to lead Japan’s resurgence amid growing international tension in Asia between USA, its ally, and China, its neighbor with whom it has territorial disputes. As a former foreign minister, Kishida knows the ins and outs of diplomacy well and has very good relations with the Democratic Administration. Good proof of this is that, in 2016, the goal of the visit to Hiroshima de Obama, the first by a sitting US president to pay tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb. In addition, it signed an agreement with South Korea to end the claims of the ‘comfort women’, the sex slaves exploited by the Imperial Japanese Army during the II World War.

Third generation of a family of politicians

Married with two children, he embodies the third generation of a family of politicians, since his grandfather and father were deputies and he is also related to Kiichi Miyazawa, who was prime minister. Educated in New YorkWhere his father was stationed, he studied law at Waseda University and graduated in 1982. After working first in a bank and then as a deputy assistant, he was elected to Parliament in 1993 by the Hirohisma constituency. As minister during the first Government of Shinzo Abe between 2007 and 2008, he rose to become one of the most respected figures in the PLD. Much younger than his predecessor, Kishida aspires to revitalize Japanese politics thanks to this change in government, but with continuity.

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