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Interview with Kishida on his bid for LDP presidency

  • September 3, 2021
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

The following are excerpts from an interview with former Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairperson Kishida Fumio, who has announced his bid for the party’s presidency.


Q: The LDP presidential election will take place on Sept. 29 and the four-year term of Lower House members will end on Oct. 21. There’s not much time between these two dates.


Kishida: If I were in the position to make a decision after the race, I’d say that the options (for setting a date for the general election) are limited. But what’s important now is for me to focus all my energy on winning the election first.


Q: With regard to the scenario of calling an election after the current term of Lower House members ends, wouldn’t it be impossible to make an official announcement on Oct. 5 and hold a vote on Oct. 17?


Kishida: The right thing to do would be to not only form a cabinet after being nominated as prime minister (at an extraordinary Diet session), but also to convey one’s thoughts to the public with sincerity and call an election after responding to questions from the opposition camp.


Even if the date for holding an election after letting Lower House members serve their full four-year term were endorsed by the Cabinet, it could be changed once the Diet is convened. We should not keep insisting on a certain date. We should give the voters the information they need before holding an election. That is the correct path for politicians to take.


Q: You are proposing limiting the number of years served by party executives, except the president.


Kishida: The prime minister and cabinet ministers are constantly examined based on their performance in Diet debates. How about people in the party’s three key posts, including the secretary-general? Is the checks and balances system functioning with regard to them? Since the introduction of a single-seat constituency system, the party leadership has gained more power in the selection of candidates, personnel, and funding.


It’s important to create a system or rules for maintaining transparency in terms of personnel. This would be an important task for me to undertake if I were elected president.


Q: Can you elaborate on the “income doubling program” you’ve proposed?


Kishida: It’s aimed at realizing an equal income increase for the middle class. People in this bracket are heavily burdened with housing and education payments. We must address this by paying more attention to taxation, including income tax, social welfare programs, and the inequalities that exist between urban and local areas.


The benefits that businesses gain through growth must be appropriately distributed to their employees, and companies should give priority to increasing wages. We must shrink the economic disparities that have widened as a result of the pandemic and build a virtuous economic cycle.


Q: Do you think it’s necessary for Japan to possess the ability to attack enemy bases?


Kishida: If Japan comes under attack, the first strike could be prevented through missile defense. To make preparations for the second and subsequent strikes, we must think about this as a way to protect people’s lives.


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