Morning Alert   -   Thursday, September 30, 2021
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All networks and national dailies led with reports on the election of former Foreign Minister Kishida as the new LDP president, with NHK saying Kishida has decided to tap Amari Akira, who heads the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, to a senior post in the party.


Kishida elected as new LDP leader, set to become next prime minister

All national dailies reported extensively on the election of former Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio as LDP president on Wednesday by winning a four-way race. Kishida is now poised to be elected as Japan’s next prime minister in the Diet on Oct. 4.

The papers wrote that Kishida is arranging to appoint Amari Akira, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, as LDP secretary general. He is also considering appointing Takaichi Sanae, one of the candidates in the LDP leadership race, to a key party or cabinet post. Education Minister Hagiuda Koichi is rumored to be a possible pick for chief cabinet secretary.

In a post-election news conference, Kishida called for unity among LDP members as he leads the party into a general election slated for November and an Upper House election next year. He also expressed resolve to make utmost efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus with the possibility of a sixth wave of infection in Japan in mind. He pledged to compile an economic stimulus package worth several hundred billion dollars by the end of the year to revitalize the pandemic-hit economy. He also vowed to narrow income inequality in Japan through the redistribution of wealth and broad-based salary hikes by saying: "There would be no wealth distribution without growth. But it is also true there would be no new growth without wealth distribution." He added that he will achieve pay hikes for nurses, care workers, and childcare workers who are "underpaid for the amount of work they do."

On foreign policy, Kishida talked about his resolve to tackle three challenges: to protect fundamental values such as democracy, to maintain peace and stability in and around Japan, and to make Japan an important player in the international community by actively contributing to global issues such as climate change. He also said he will contribute to establishing a free and open Indo-Pacific. Nikkei and Asahi wrote that Kishida will uphold the diplomatic and security policies adopted by the Abe and Suga administrations and respond to China based on the U.S.-Japan alliance and cooperation with other democratic nations. Nikkei conjectured that Kishida will explore the possibility of holding a summit meeting with President Biden on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ meeting in Italy on Oct. 30-31. The paper also wrote that Kishida is considering appointing a cabinet minister in charge of economic security with stable supply chains and technology outflow to China in mind and a special advisor tasked with human rights issues in view of China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang. Noting that Kishida previously served as foreign minister for four years and seven months, Yomiuri wrote that his diplomatic skills will be tested in dealing with such pressing issues as China’s repeated intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, North Korea’s missile launches and other provocations, and stalled territorial talks with Russia.

Yomiuri wrote that an unnamed senior U.S. government official told the paper that the United States attaches great importance to the U.S.-Japan alliance, which the official said was the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the rest of the world, and that President Biden looks forward to strengthening cooperation with the new LDP president for many years to come. Mainichi speculated that the U.S. government is hoping that the next Japanese administration will endure while Kishida strengthens his political foundation out of concern that frequent changes of government would have a negative impact on the U.S.-Japan alliance in view of strategic competition with China.

Opposition leaders express low expectations for change under Kishida

All national dailies wrote that the leaders of opposition parties expressed low expectations for the leadership of new LDP President Kishida. Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan head Edano said the LDP election showed that the party will not and cannot change. Japanese Communist Party chief Shii also said nothing will change because the LDP chose a leader who will continue the policy line of Abe and Suga.


China, South Korea react to election of Kishida as LDP leader

All national dailies wrote that China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Wednesday that China is ready to work with Japan's new administration to observe the principles and spirit set out in the four political documents between China and Japan, deepen practical cooperation in various fields, and move forward China-Japan ties along the right track in a sound and steady manner. An unnamed official at South Korea’s presidential office issued a comment saying South Korea will work with Japan’s new administration to develop a forward-looking relationship with Japan.


Business leaders welcome Kishida’s election as LDP leader

Asahi wrote that Tokura Masakazu, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, also known as Keidanren, said on Wednesday that he pins high hopes on new LDP President Kishida for rebuilding the Japanese economy. Mimura Akio, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also expressed hope for Kishida to develop specific measures to boost social and economic activities while keeping the pandemic under control.


Prosecutors seek two-year prison term for Greg Kelly over financial misconduct

All national dailies wrote that prosecutors sought a two-year prison term for Greg Kelly, a former Nissan Motor executive, for helping former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn underreport his remuneration in a trial at the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday. The defense counsel for Kelly, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to make its final argument on Oct. 27.


Shionogi to seek approval for oral COVID drug

All national dailies wrote that Japanese drugmaker Shionogi announced on Wednesday that it is planning to seek state approval for its oral coronavirus drug by the end of this year. The company expects the antiviral drug, which has been in clinical trials since July, will prevent mild and moderate COVID-19 symptoms from worsening. If approved, it will be the first oral drug for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms in Japan.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team