All national dailies reported extensively on Saturday on Prime Minister Kishida’s first policy speech delivered to both houses of the Diet on Friday. Kishida stressed that measures against COVID-19 are his top priority and pledged to work on revising the law to make it easier for the government to impose restrictions on people’s movements and secure medical resources. The premier also promised to promote the development of domestically produced vaccines and treatment drugs for COVID-19. Yomiuri highlighted the premier’s pledge to provide benefits to business operators, non-regular workers, and households with children affected by the new coronavirus.
On the economic front, Kishida stressed that his government will realize a “new form of capitalism” through a ”virtuous cycle of growth and redistribution” of benefits and promised to provide a favorable tax climate to companies that raise wages. On the diplomatic and security front, he pledged to revise the 2013 National Security Strategy (NSS) for the first time and stressed the need to build missile defense capabilities that include “enhanced measures,” apparently with the ability to attack enemy bases in mind. He also said he would promote legislation on economic security to build supply chains for semiconductors and strategic resources.
Kishida also promised to create a clean energy strategy that would include nuclear power in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Mainichi noted that Kishida, a Hiroshima-native, also expressed determination to achieve a world without nuclear weapons and that no prime minister has made such a pledge in a policy speech since 2016.
In a related development, all papers took up the interpellation held at the Lower House yesterday, during which opposition leaders criticized PM Kishida for backtracking on key policy pledges he made during the LDP presidential campaign, including a hike in the capital gains tax and allowing dual surnames. The prime minister stressed that it is important to achieve economic growth ahead of redistributing wealth, hence suggesting that raising taxes on high income earners will not occur anytime soon. On dual surnames, he said it is a matter that warrants extensive discussion since there are various opinions. Nikkei speculated that Kishida toned down the rhetoric on the capital gains tax in response to the prolonged slump in the stock market so as not to alienate investors ahead of the Oct. 31 general election. On separate surnames for couples, Asahi wondered if the premier tried to play it safe, as party conservatives opposing the idea were galvanized by ultra-conservative Takaichi Sanae’s unexpectedly strong performance in the LDP presidential race.