What Will Fumio Kishida Do?
To be as constructive as prime minister as he was as foreign minister, Japan's new leader will need to overcome bureaucratic resistance and clearly articulate his policy objectives and his strategy for achieving them. Unless he does, he is unlikely to remain in power for long.
TOKYO – A month after becoming Japan’s 100th prime minister, Fumio Kishida has another reason to celebrate. Defying expectations, his governing coalition has secured a comfortable preponderance of seats in the lower house of parliament (the Diet), with his Liberal Democratic Party now enjoying an absolute majority and control over parliamentary committees. The question now is how Kishida will use this impressive result, and what his leadership will mean for Japan.
Despite my long involvement with former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government as an economic adviser, I do not recall having any personal conversation with Kishida. But we have come across each other in government meetings, and he always greeted me with a genuine smile and gesture. This points to a social and political aptitude that will serve him well as prime minister.
More concretely, Kishida leads Kochikai, an LDP policy group known for its relatively dovish foreign-policy stance and strong focus on the economy. Kochikai was created in 1957 by Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda. Ikeda’s predecessor, Nobusuke Kishi (Abe’s maternal grandfather), adopted the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan – at the time a controversial move which sent student protesters pouring into the streets.