Fumio Kishida, the New Prime Minister of Japan

After former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s retirement on October 4th, Fumio Kishida was elected the new leader of Japan. Kishida leads Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and is 64 years of age. Read on to learn more about him.

By Lucas Canter

Even if Fumio Kishida was just elected, he has had no time to rest. Currently, Japan faces numerous issues, like post-pandemic economic problems and constant threats from their close neighbor, North Korea. The pandemic issues are so severe that they caused Yoshihide Suga, the last Prime Minister, to retire a year after being inaugurated due to controversy surrounding his decision to host the Olympics despite COVID-19.

Kishida had plenty of political experience before becoming Prime Minister, serving as the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2017 and the Minister of Defense in 2017, before his inauguration. Some are comfortable with these election results and feel as though it was the proper choice. James Brown, an associate professor of political science at Temple University, says it was “a safe choice.” He also says it was a “clear vote for continuity and rejecting a major shift from Abe.” It is essential that Japan keeps knowledgeable and educated people in high positions of power, so the fact that this election rejected a significant shift from the leadership dynamic generated by one of the longest-serving Prime Ministers of Japan, Shinzō Abe, is a very positive outcome. Kishida is also much more moderate than many of his predecessors, stating that he would “consider meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.” 

However, not everyone is pleased with this choice, as Taro Kono, the most popular vote for Prime Minister, was not chosen. This dissatisfaction is partly because Kishida doesn’t support the overhauling of social security to help poor citizens, unlike Kono. 

Kishida promised heavy stimulus spending to get Japan’s economy out of pandemic distress. He also introduced a foreign policy to tighten Japan’s relations with the United States and other nations to protect itself from China’s overwhelming threat. 

After a series of recent Prime Ministers have been forced to drop out of office after a little over a year, many Japanese citizens feel as though they need a person who stands for “continuity and stability over a maverick who might challenge the status quo and trigger controversy,” says Chie Kobayashi, an author at NPR from Tokyo. 

Following the pandemic, Japan’s current state is in shambles; it needs a leader who can push the country out of this economic depression. Kishida has promised to be that person; however, if Kishida can fulfill these promises, it has yet to be seen.