UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Kishida Fumio

Kishida Fumio is known as a soft-spoken, honest politician. A man called too serious -- or even boring -- has reached a pinnacle of political achievement as 100th Prime Minister.

The former LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson, become president of Japan's main ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the leadership election 29 September 2021. The career politician was virtually assured to become prime minister, following Suga Yoshihide. The race resulted in a runoff between Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro and Kishida. The two party veterans were not able to secure more than 50 percent of votes in the first round. In the runoff election, Kishida beat Kono, nabbing 257 votes to Kono's 170.

Kishida is a third-generation lawmaker -- seemingly destined to follow in the footsteps of his lawmaker father and grandfather. Although Japan has a democratically elected political system, politics is effectively monopolized by aristocratic families, and offices are semi-hereditary. The safest and most convenient way to become a politician is to be born in a family of high-ranking officials. Japan has always had five major political families (Hatoyama, Koizumi, Abe, Aso and Fukuda).

Kishida's grandfather, Masaki Kishida, participated in the war of aggression against China, and served as a naval participant in the Kanoe Fumio Cabinet from June 1937 to January 1939. Masaki Kishida organized the Japanese navy to carry out aggression against neighboring countries including China. Fumio Kishida’s father Fumitake Kishida was the head of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Agency and was elected to the House of Representatives many times.

After just five years as a banker Kishida first dipped his toes into public service. He became his father's secretary. In 1993, he took over that Hiroshima seat and has been re-elected eight times.

From 2007 to 2008, Kishida was state minister for Okinawa issues and for the Russian-held islands, for science and technology policy, and for regulatory reform during Abe’s first term as prime minister and that of his successor, Fukuda Yasuo.

On 07 November 2007 Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo called in State Minister for People's Life Kishida to the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) and ordered him to review all policies, laws and ordinances from a perspective of attaching importance to consumers. Following a series of food-labeling scams, false earthquake-resistance calculations and the drug-induced hepatitis case, he wanted to switch his administration's basic policy from attaching importance to producers to laying emphasis on consumers. Prime Minister Fukuda on 05 February 2008 decided to appoint State Minister for People's Life to double as state minister for unifying consumer administration following the poisoning incident from Chinese-made gyoza dumplings.

In connection with the arrest 10 February 2008 of a U.S. Marine on suspicion of raping a junior high school girl in Okinawa, State Minister in Charge of Okinawa and Northern Territories Kishida told reporters : "I feel strong indignation over the incident, which should never have occurred." As to whether it is necessary to take a second look at the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), Kishida said, "The first thing to do is to strengthen discipline among the military personnel and discuss measures to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents. Then, we must think whether there is need to take other action." When asked about the impact of the incident on the relocation plan for the U.S. Futenma Air Station, Kishida went no further than to say: "While listening fully to views of the Okinawa people, we want to deal specifically with the base relocation issue and the issue of reducing Okinawa's military burden."

Prime Minister Fukuda decided 17 June 2008 to appoint Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Fumio Kishida as space development minister to be newly set up based on the Basic Space Law, which was enacted in May. The Basic Space Law lifted the ban on the use of space for defense purposes.

Kishida was initially tapped as foreign minister in 2012 in the hope that someone with his experience would help resolve the standoff over the relocation of Okinawa’s U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and to make progress in resolving the territorial dispute with Russia.

He served as foreign minister for over 4 straight years—a record in post-war Japan. During this stint, he welcomed then US President Barack Obama to his home constituency of Hiroshima, the site of the world's first atomic bombing. Kishida also worked to ease long-standing tensions with Seoul. In 2015, he struck a deal with his South Korean counterpart on the politically sensitive issue surrounding people referred to as wartime comfort women. Kishida went on to assume the position of LDP policy chief, one of the top executive posts in the party.

On 04 October 2021, Diet members elect the country's new prime minister. Kishida was virtually assured to win, as the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito control both Houses of the Diet. Kishida called on the party to unify so that it can achieve its goals and meet the needs of the people it represents.

Kishida made a speech to LDP members of the Lower and Upper House. He said, "Japan continues to face crises. We need to fight against the coronavirus pandemic with firm resolve. And we'll need to hammer out an economic package worth several tens of trillions of yen by the year-end. Beyond that, we also need to handle important challenges related to our country's future. They include adopting a new form of capitalism, realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific and countering a declining birthrate. I will devote myself to tackling these tasks starting today."

Kishida campaigned on rebuilding the country's medical system and economy -- both hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Kishida Fumio has proposed a four-pillar strategy for tackling the pandemic. He would set up temporary hospitals to bring to zero the number of patients who have to wait to be hospitalized as well as implementing an economic stimulus program worth several hundred billion dollars to help struggling businesses stay afloat.

While expressing approval for Abenomics, Kishida has called for a shift away from neoliberal policies and vowed to aim for a new form of capitalism based on a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. He says he would take tax measures to encourage pay raises for employees and boost the income of healthcare and nursery workers. Kishida also planned to inject some 90 billion dollars into the science and technology sector.

Kishida said he would aim to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the Japan-US alliance. He also says he would bolster the capabilities of the Japan Coast Guard, which patrols the country's territorial waters, and give it more authority to respond to various contingencies. The former foreign minister also has a plan for raising Japan's image abroad.

Kishida says, "I'm making three commitments for diplomacy and security. I am determined to protect democracy and other universal values, to protect Japan's peace and stability, to protect our interests through raising Japan's presence in the international community by contributing to solving environmental and other global challenges. I will carry out foreign and defense policies based on these commitments and achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific."

Kishida said it is a given that renewable energy should be utilized to the maximum extent. He also says he would support investment in new clean energy technology such as small nuclear reactors and nuclear fusion.

Korean analysts said Tokyo's hardline policy on Seoul will likely remain in place. "President Moon Jae-in's term ends in May next year so it'll be difficult to expect any major changes in the two countries' relationship right away when one administration is departing soon." The topic perhaps attracting the most attention is his stance on comfort women and wartime sexual slavery.

Kishida, as Japan's ex-foreign minister, was the one who signed the 2015 agreement with Seoul on the Japanese military's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II, now in tatters as the current administration later embraced victims' claims that the deal was reached without full consent. "Acknowledging the comfort women's struggle and making concessions won't serve the LDP well, in terms of public support, heading into the upcoming Japanese general election"

Kishida once served as Japan's acting defense minister but the LDP faction he leads is considered the party's "dovish wing" against the nuclear arming of the nation and supportive of Japan's pacifist constitution. From Hiroshima himself, several members of Kishida's family died when the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 28-03-2023 13:42:54 ZULU