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Kishida’s appointment of son as PM secretary causes stir

  • October 4, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 10:31 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Oct. 4 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s appointment of his eldest son as executive secretary to the prime minister for political affairs on Tuesday has caused a stir.


The appointment of 31-year-old Shotaro, who was previously a government-paid secretary to Kishida, came on the day that marked one year since Kishida took office.


A source close to the prime minister explained that the appointment was “aimed at avoiding organizational inertia,” but many in the government view it as a move to prepare Shotaro to become a politician taking over Kishida’s constituency.


The appointment is criticized as “nepotism” by opposition parties while raising concern among members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that the Kishida administration could face a stronger headwind.


After graduating from Keio University, Shotaro joined major Japanese trading firm Mitsui & Co. <8031> in 2014 and then started to work at Kishida’s lawmaker office in 2020.


Kishida currently has eight executive secretaries. Shotaro replaced Takayoshi Yamamoto, who will return to work at the Kishida office.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference on Tuesday that the appointment of Shotaro was based on the principle of “placing the right person in the right job.”


Meanwhile, Jun Azumi, parliamentary affairs chief of the leading opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, put a question mark over the appointment.


“An executive secretary to the prime minister holds greater power than a cabinet minister has,” Azumi argued. “So why is the young son needed?”


Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Satoshi Inoue claimed in a Twitter post that Kishida used his political power for personal purposes.


The appointment is “exactly favoritism for his family,” Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, said at a press conference.


Some in the LDP showed understanding for the appointment. “Executive secretaries should be the prime minister’s most trusted people,” former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said.


But other LDP members are critical of the appointment, especially at a time when people are struggling with rising prices and the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation Kishida himself called a “national crisis” in a policy speech on Monday.


The appointment is “totally out of touch with the people,” a long-serving LDP member said.


In December last year, Kishida faced similar criticism after temporarily having Nobuteru Ishihara, a former LDP secretary-general who lost his parliamentary seat in a general election earlier in that year, as special adviser to the cabinet.


“Now is the time to focus on ‘our country,’ not ‘my family,'” said an LDP member who has served as a cabinet minister.


“Aides (to Kishida) should have stopped him deciding the appointment,” an LDP source said.

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