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Pundits discuss reasons for strong public support for Kishida

Asahi interviewed a political analyst, a French journalist, and a Japanese economist to learn their views on what buoys the public’s strong support for Prime Minister Kishida and his cabinet. Ito Atsuo, a political analyst who has worked for the LDP’s public affairs section, said that Prime Minister Kishida’s personal image as a soft-spoken politician may lie behind the public’s support for him, speculating that the nation was tired after nine years under former Prime Minister Abe, who led the government with strong leadership and a tough public image, and former Prime Minister Suga, who pursued his own policy priorities, such as accelerated vaccine rollouts and the establishment of the Digital Agency, by proactively mobilizing bureaucrats. Ito also said Kishida has not faced harsh criticism from the public due to his political style of responding “flexibly” to other people’s opinions instead of insisting on prioritizing his own policy agenda. The pundit said, however, that although Kishida is now giving consideration to former Prime Minister Abe since he leads the largest faction within the LDP, attention will be focused on whether Kishida will be able to realize his own policy goals after the Upper House election.

 

Karyn Nishimura, a French journalist who served as an AFP correspondent in Tokyo from 2004 to 2015, said that compared with former Prime Ministers Abe and Suga, who came across as high-handed politicians, Prime Minister Kishida appears like an “average” guy. Nishimura said Kishida can speak to journalists off the cuff, whereas Suga read prepared talking points. However, Kishida sometimes fails to offer much substance when he explains his key policy goals, such as a “new form of capitalism,” Nishimura said, analyzing that he may be trying to provide “relief, security, and stability” to the Japanese people as seen in his careful approach to opening Japan’s borders to foreign visitors. However, the journalist argued, it is necessary for the prime minister to take risks in order to make Japan a better place.

 

University of Tokyo Professor Kitao Sagiri said that although Prime Minister Kishida stresses the need to boost investment in human resources, he should first address Japan’s rigid employment system, which has led to such problems as wage disparity between male and female workers and between full-time and part-time workers. The economist stressed that it is necessary for Japan to reform its employment system to make full use of the abilities of women. Noting that Japan ranked 120th among 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap ranking in 2021, Kitao proposed that Kishida set a goal of drastically raising Japan’s ranking.

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