Bangkok Post

Kishida begins work as Japan’s PM

‘Secured US support’ on disputed islands


TOKYO: Fumio Kishida got to work as Japan’s prime minister yesterday, holding talks with foreign leaders, a day after taking office and forming a cabinet to meet challenges including reviving an economy battered by Covid-19.

“I have a sense of tension like the one I feel just after a playball announceme­nt in baseball,” Mr Kishida told reporters at the prime minister’s office after holding a teleconfer­ence with US President Joe Biden.

“I would like to speedily respond to various challenges,” he said.

In the talks with Mr Biden and separate discussion­s with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison later in the morning, Mr Kishida agreed with the two leaders to strengthen ties and work together to realise a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

He said he received “strong words of commitment” from Mr Biden on Washington’s promise to defend the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

China claims the Japan-administer­ed uninhabite­d islets and calls them Diaoyu, one of several areas of concern among the United States and its allies over Beijing’s growing assertiven­ess in regional waters.

To revive the domestic economy, Mr Kishida has vowed to implement a “new capitalism” that focuses on boosting economic growth and redistribu­ting the fruits of that success to increase middle-class incomes. An economic package worth “tens of trillions of yen” is in the works to support people and businesses reeling from the pandemic, he has said.

Mr Kishida’s cabinet members held their first press conference­s at their respective offices, breaking from a tradition of holding them on the night of the cabinet launch.

Trade and industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said at his press conference that he will “push forward with the restart of nuclear power plants while putting top priority on safety” as he noted the need to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Hagiuda said he intends to seek cabinet approval of a revised basic energy plan in time for the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, to be held between Oct 31 and Nov 12 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mr Kishida, meanwhile, will be looking to guide the Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition to victory in a general election that will take place Oct 31.

He told a press conference on Monday he will dissolve the House of Representa­tives, the powerful lower chamber of parliament, on Oct 14, with the campaignin­g period to start on Oct 19.

A strong mandate from voters will give Mr Kishida’s cabinet, which is full of fresh faces with 13 of its 20 members taking a ministeria­l post for the first time, greater freedom to pursue his policies.

Mr Kishida appointed Daishiro Yamagiwa as economic and fiscal policy minister, while putting Takayuki Kobayashi in a new post charged with economic security, including preventing a technology drain from Japan.

He is set to deliver a policy speech and answer questions from party leaders in the coming days before the general election.

 ?? AFP ?? Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrives at his office in Tokyo.
AFP Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrives at his office in Tokyo.

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