Fumio Kishida, Japan’s prime minister, was re-elected on Wednesday after his ruling party won a big win in legislative elections.
Kishida, who was elected by parliament little over a month ago, called a snap election in which his ruling party won 261 seats in the 465-member lower house, the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber legislature, giving him a free hand in passing laws.
The win on Oct. 31 strengthens his hold on power and is viewed as a mandate from voters for his newly formed administration to address the pandemic-ravaged economy, virus control, and other issues. According to Kishida, the findings show that voters prefer stability over change.
He’ll create his second Cabinet later Wednesday, maintaining all but one of the ministers he nominated when he took office on Oct. 4, and then outline his economic goals and other major issues during a press conference.
A month ago, the Liberal Democrats nominated Kishida as a safe, conservative candidate. They expected significant electoral losses if Yoshihide Suga, who is unpopular, remained in office. Suga resigned after just a year in office, after criticism of his handling of the coronavirus epidemic and his determination on conducting the Tokyo Olympics despite fears of a virus outbreak drove down his popularity.
The better-than-expected election results may provide Kishida’s government with additional power and time to implement campaign pledges such as COVID-19 control, economic regeneration, and defense capability building.
Kishida’s hold on power may be bolstered by his Cabinet shuffle.
Former Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, a major policy specialist from his party side, will be the next Foreign Minister, while former Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will be promoted to the governing party’s No. 2 position.
Motegi voted for Kishida in the party leadership election, and he will take over for party heavyweight Akira Amari, who resigned after a poor election result owing to a previous bribery incident.
Despite the fact that many of Kishida’s ministers are first-timers, key positions were given to those from powerful and political circles, including those led by ultra-conservative former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former Finance Minister Taro Aso.
Kishida’s “new capitalism” economic policy promises to create a self-reinforcing cycle of growth and improved economic distribution in order to raise incomes.
Kishida’s first post-election responsibility is to put together a big economic stimulus plan of approximately 30 trillion yen ($265 billion), which will be revealed next week. He also intends to pass an additional budget to fund the projects before the end of the year.
Kishida reaffirmed his vow to build a good growth-distribution cycle by boosting investment and income during a government meeting on Tuesday.
Kishida is also set to announce his pandemic plans later this week, ahead of another likely rise in cases that might hurt his popularity.
Kishida will continue to prioritize the Japan-US security alliance and push a vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” with other democracies, especially Quad discussion members the US, Australia, and India, as a former foreign minister.
Concerns over China’s expanding strength and influence, as well as North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats, have prompted Kishida to emphasize the significance of a stronger military.
He has fought to keep a legislation in place that mandates married couples to take a single surname, forcing most women to give up their maiden names. The Liberal Democrats are frequently seen as being anti-diversity and gender equality.