Fumio Kishida takes office as Japan’s new Prime Minister
Analysts say Kishida is seen as a consensus builder, an establishment choice who represents stability. But the political veteran wasn’t the popular choice — he had lackluster support from the public and struggled to shake off his image as a boring bureaucrat.
His first major test will be the next general election, in which he’ll be the face of a party that’s been criticized for its handling of the pandemic under Suga.
“He’s not going to be a TV star. He’s not going to capture the imagination of the average Japanese person. But the Japanese people want stability and security, and I think he will be able to provide that,” said Keith Henry, president of political risk and business consulting firm Asia Strategy.
What to expect from Kishida’s administration
Kishida has promised a “new capitalism” that includes narrowing the income gap and boosting consumer spending. He said the eponymous economic policies of Abe — known as “Abenomics” — failed to “trickle down” from the rich to the poor. He has also proposed a hefty recovery package worth “several tens of trillions” of yen to steer Japan’s economy out of its pandemic-induced slump.
“A deep feeling among the Japanese people that this gap between the haves and have-nots, the gap between wealth, wages and opportunity is increasing,” Henry said.
The new Prime Minister said he also wants to take measures against the country’s declining birthrate, and believes nuclear energy should be considered as a clean energy option.
Analysts question whether Kishida will be a lasting leader, or whether Japan will return to a period of political instability similar to that of the pre-Abe era, when Japan cycled through six prime ministers in six years.
On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a congratulatory letter to Kishida, expressing hope the two leaders will develop Korea-Japan relations and cooperate as neighboring countries, South Korea’s Blue House said.
CNN’s Gawon Bae in Seoul contributed to reporting.