3rd LD Writethru: Fumio Kishida elected as Japanese PM to succeed Suga, seeks to tackle COVID-19 while reviving economy

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 4, 2021
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TOKYO, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Fumio Kishida, leader of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was elected on Monday as the country's new prime minister to succeed Yoshihide Suga.

The Japanese Diet convened an extraordinary session in the afternoon to choose the new prime minister. As the ruling coalition led by the LDP controls both chambers, 64-year-old Kishida received 311 of 458 votes in the House of Representatives and 141 of 241 votes in the House of Councillors.

"This is the real starting point. I will go forth with a strong sense of determination, with a strong resolution," he said at the LDP's headquarters in Tokyo in the morning.

After naming his new Cabinet in the afternoon, Kishida will be formally inaugurated in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace and hold a press conference in the evening.

Kishida's first major test as prime minister will be the general election. He is planning to hold the election on Oct. 31, while campaigning for members of the House of Representatives is set to begin on Oct. 19.

Kishida has promised to increase middle-class incomes and reduce wealth disparity under his "new form of capitalism," which is viewed as a break from the "neoliberal policies" that the Japanese government has pursued over the past two decades.

In addition, he said that an economic package worth "tens of trillions of yen" is in preparation to help people and businesses suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kishida's predecessor Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet resigned en masse on Monday morning, little more than a year after its formation, amid criticism over its lack of ability to curb COVID-19.

As Japan's COVID-19 infections declined recently, and nearly 60 percent of Japan's population received a second shot of the COVID-19 vaccines, the new prime minister will need to first handle the tasks of gradually lifting the restrictions on social and business activities and opening the border to foreign travelers.

In his prospective Cabinet, Kishida will add a new ministerial post for economic security with a responsibility to craft a national strategy designed to end the drain of intellectual property from Japan. Takayuki Kobayashi, one of 13 ministerial first-timers, is set to be appointed to take the new post.

Three women will likely be appointed in the new Cabinet, including vaccination minister Noriko Horiuchi, administrative reform minister Karen Makishima, and Seiko Noda, the minister in charge of establishing a new agency for children's policy.

In addition, former education minister Hirokazu Matsuno is set to become chief Cabinet secretary, and former environment minister Shunichi Suzuki is likely to replace his brother-in-law Taro Aso as finance minister of the country. Enditem

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