By Nobira Yuichi
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio started his speech at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) convention with a discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He criticized Russia, saying that “Russia’s violence is a challenge to the global order and peace, including that of Asia,” and emphasized that “we must see the incident as our own problem and respond” appropriately. Kishida showed a forceful stance on foreign policy, thus playing to the party’s conservatives while looking ahead to the Upper House election.
Kishida named three points: (1) strengthening Japan’s defense system, (2) strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, and (3) rebuilding the international order. With regard to the first point, the LDP is considering acquiring “capabilities to attack enemy bases.”
On the third point, Kishida touched on the reform of the UN Security Council, in which he was involved when he served as foreign minister. “The fact that Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, is engaging in violent acts indicates a new framework for international order is needed,” Kishida said in his speech.
A top official at the Prime Minister’s Office [Kantei] is optimistic about the LDP’s prospects in the Upper House election, saying that “the opposition parties will have difficulty attacking the government’s handling of the Ukraine situation.” Kishida has not made his presence felt in the Ukraine crisis, however. Moreover, commodity prices have risen and stock prices have fallen due to high crude oil prices. The government may come under criticism if people’s lives are affected. A former Cabinet member said that the biggest issue for the upcoming Upper House election will be the government’s handling of the Ukraine situation and commented that “the party will get into action once the budget is passed. The kind of message the administration sends out this May will influence [the election].”