Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida engaged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a debate during the Lower House representative interpellations on Nov. 20. While Kishida’s strategy to become Abe’s successor is based on his relationship of trust with the Prime Minister, he is often criticized for his “weak presence” due to his submissive stance. During the interpellation, he combined his own assertions with his demands on Abe, reflecting his efforts to maintain a balance.
In his first representative interpellation in the Diet, Kishida loudly called on Abe to manage his administration with humility. He said: “If the administration is seen by the opposition and the people as adopting a condescending attitude, it will lose the people’s trust.”
On the question of constitutional revision, Kishida also stressed that “constitutional revision must not be undertaken for the sake of constitutional revision.” He warned Abe, who is aiming at promulgating an amended constitution in 2020, against hasty deliberations, thus displaying his dovish bent.
With regard to the policies for the “revolution in human resources development” to be compiled by the government in early December, he also made it a point to remind Abe to “have the party’s recommendations incorporated.” This was in light of mounting discontent in the LDP over “the Kantei taking the lead in policymaking” after the recent landslide victory in the Lower House election.
Kishida’s demonstration of his own position in the interpellation was well received by Kishida faction members. A senior faction official said: “While his basic strategy is to have power handed over to him by continuing to support the Prime Minister, he also needs to project his own unique traits.” It is reckoned that Kishida also needs to modulate his responses, including criticizing Abe at times, in order to enjoy an advantage in the race to succeed Abe. (Abridged)