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Kishida fails to resist Kantei’s “bullying” of MOFA

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida made remarks indicating his intent to become the successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the first time early this year.


Kishida is now the second longest serving foreign minister in history. Both his grandfather and father were members of the House of Representatives and he is considered a pedigree politician. While he has finally indicated his ambition, his presence as foreign minister is surprisingly weak.


A Kantei (Prime Minister’s Official Residence) source notes that, “In short, he is out of the loop.”


This source explains, “Under the Abe administration, foreign policy is the Kantei’s turf and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is out of the loop. It was even made to take the blame for the failure in Japan-Russia negotiations, and a “personnel purge” has taken place. As far as the Japan-U.S. summit on Feb. 10 is concerned, Prime Minister Abe’s secretary, Takaya Imai, who was accompanying him on an overseas trip in mid-January, suddenly cut short his trip and flew to the U.S. to work on scheduling arrangements. Mr. Kishida’s name rarely comes up in the Kantei in relation to foreign affairs issues. What the Kantei really wants to do is to ‘destroy’ Kishida.”


A case in point is the recall of Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine from the ROK over the “comfort women” statue issue. A MOFA source says: “The Kantei took the lead in making this decision, which was also announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. Ambassador Nagamine has not been able to return to post since Jan. 9, even though MOFA wants him to do so at an early date, because the Kantei would not allow it. Mr. Kishida, who discussed this issue with Prime Minister Abe on Jan. 19, backed off just like that. People in the ministry are voicing discontent by saying, ‘He is useless; it all boils down to the fact that he only cares about himself.'”


An acquaintance of Kishida reveals, “Mr. Kishida wants to realize a grand Kochi-kai [Kishida faction] and a conservative mainstream administration. However, the other day, when I asked him about his ambition to succeed Abe, he said jokingly: ‘What if I become the perennial candidate for Liberal Democratic Party president?’ I could not help showing my astonishment.” (Slightly abridged)

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