Fumio Kishida (岸田 文雄, Kishida Fumio, born 29 July 1957) is a Japanese politician who has served as Prime Minister of Japan and President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since 2021. A member of the House of Representatives, he previously served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2017 and as acting Minister of Defense in 2017. From 2017 to 2020, he also chaired the LDP Policy Research Council.

Fumio Kishida
岸田 文雄
Official portrait, 2021
Prime Minister of Japan
Assumed office
4 October 2021
Preceded byYoshihide Suga
President of the Liberal Democratic Party
Assumed office
29 September 2021
Vice PresidentTarō Asō
Secretary-GeneralAkira Amari
Toshimitsu Motegi
Preceded byYoshihide Suga
Ministerial offices
Minister for Foreign Affairs
4 November 2021 – 10 November 2021
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byToshimitsu Motegi
Succeeded byYoshimasa Hayashi
In office
26 December 2012 – 3 August 2017
Prime MinisterShinzo Abe
Preceded byKōichirō Genba
Succeeded byTarō Kōno
Minister of Defense
28 July 2017 – 3 August 2017
Prime MinisterShinzo Abe
Preceded byTomomi Inada
Succeeded byItsunori Onodera
Minister of State for Consumers
In office
18 June 2008 – 1 August 2008
Prime MinisterYasuo Fukuda
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded bySeiko Noda
Minister of State for Space
In office
6 February 2008 – 1 August 2008
Prime MinisterYasuo Fukuda
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded bySeiko Noda
Minister of State for Okinawa and the Northern Territories
In office
27 August 2007 – 1 August 2008
Prime MinisterShinzo Abe
Yasuo Fukuda
Preceded bySanae Takaichi
Succeeded byMotoo Hayashi
Minister of State for Regulatory Reform
In office
27 August 2007 – 1 August 2008
Prime MinisterShinzo Abe
Yasuo Fukuda
Preceded byYoshimi Watanabe
Succeeded byKaoru Yosano
Minister of State for Science, Technology and Quality of Life
In office
27 August 2007 – 1 August 2008
Prime MinisterShinzo Abe
Yasuo Fukuda
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded bySeiko Noda
Member of the House of Representatives
from Hiroshima
Assumed office
20 October 1996
Preceded byConstituency established
Constituency1st district
Majority117,800 (71.1%)
In office
18 July 1993 – 27 September 1996
ConstituencyFormer 1st district
(Elect Four)
Personal details
Born (1957-07-29) 29 July 1957 (age 66)
Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic
(m. 1988)
EducationKaisei Academy
Alma materWaseda University (LLB)

Born into a political family, Kishida spent part of his childhood in the United States, where he attended elementary school in New York City. After beginning his career in finance, Kishida entered politics and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 as a member of the LDP. Kishida was appointed to various posts in the cabinets of prime ministers Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda from 2007 to 2008, and was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2012 after Abe regained the premiership following the 2012 general election, serving for five years and becoming the longest-serving Foreign Affairs Minister in Japanese history. Kishida resigned from the Abe cabinet in 2017 in order to head the LDP's Policy Research Council. Kishida also assumed leadership of the LDP's more moderate Kōchikai faction in 2012 following the retirement of faction leader Makoto Koga, a position he held until his resignation in 2023.

Long considered a potential future prime minister, Kishida ran in the 2020 LDP leadership election, but lost to Yoshihide Suga. He ran again for the party leadership in 2021, this time winning in a second round run-off against opponent Taro Kono. Kishida was confirmed as Prime Minister by the National Diet four days later on 4 October 2021. He led the LDP to victory in the 2021 general election later that same month, albeit at a slightly reduced majority.

Kishida has been described as a moderate conservative and has stated that his premiership will focus on a "new model of capitalism", by seeking to implement redistributive policies to expand the middle class. On foreign policy he has continued strengthening the Quad Security Dialogue in pursuit of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, taken steps to repair ties with South Korea and in 2022 instructed the cabinet to increase Japan's military budget by 65% by 2027.

His premiership has seen controversy over the LDP's affiliation with the Unification Church new religious movement following the assassination of Shinzo Abe in 2022, an ongoing slush fund scandal involving the conservative Seiwakai and Shisuikai factions, and other issues which has led to Kishida becoming the most unpopular and controversial Prime Minister since the LDP's return to power in 2012.

Early life and education edit

Kishida was born to a political family in Shibuya, Tokyo, on 29 July 1957.[1][2][3] His father, Fumitake Kishida, was a government official in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and director of The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency. Since the Kishida family was from Hiroshima, the family returned there every summer. Many members of the Kishida family had died in the atomic bombing and Fumio grew up hearing stories from the atomic bomb survivors.[4] Both his father Fumitake and grandfather Masaki Kishida were former politicians who were members of the House of Representatives.[3] Former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yoichi Miyazawa is his cousin[5][6] and former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa is a distant relative.[3]

He went to P.S. 013 Clement C. Moore elementary school in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, New York, because his father was posted to a job in the U.S. at the time.[7] He also attended Kōjimachi Elementary School and Kōjimachi Junior High School. Kishida graduated from Kaisei Academy, where he played on the baseball team.[8]

Following several rejections from the University of Tokyo, Kishida studied law at Waseda University and graduated in 1982.[2][8] At Waseda, he was friends with future politician Takeshi Iwaya.[9][10]

Political career edit

Kishida with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, September 2014

After working at now-defunct Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and then as a secretary to a member of the House of Representatives, Kishida was elected to the House of Representatives in the 1993 general election, representing the Hiroshima 1st district.[11]

Kishida served as Minister of Okinawa Affairs from 2007 to 2008, firstly in the Abe Cabinet and later in the Fukuda cabinet.[12] He was appointed state minister in charge of consumer affairs and food safety in the cabinet of then prime minister Yasuo Fukuda in 2008.[3] Kishida was also state minister in charge of science and technology in the Fukuda cabinet.[12]

He was close to Makoto Koga, leader of the Kōchikai faction, one of the oldest inside the LDP, and assumed control of it in October 2012 after Makoto Koga announced his retirement from politics.[3]

Abe government edit

Kishida with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in March 2017

Following the LDP's victory in the 2012 general election, Kishida was named foreign minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe on 26 December 2012.[11][13] He became the longest-serving foreign minister in postwar history, surpassing Abe's father Shintaro Abe.[14] He helped to arrange U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima in May 2016, and gained attention in 2017 when he appeared alongside comedian Piko Taro to promote a United Nations program.[9]

He was not in favor of the appointment of Toshihiro Nikai as LDP secretary-general by Abe in 2016 against the wishes of Kishida's own faction, which was seen as an attempt at blocking generational change inside the LDP.[15]

In 2017, Kishida left the Cabinet to take over the chairmanship of the LDP Policy Research Council, a position traditionally seen as a stepping stone to leadership of the party.[16] He sought this position in order to improve his chances to succeed Abe, as the foreign minister post had relatively little influence within the party.[14]

Kishida considered running in the 2018 LDP presidential election, but he was persuaded by Abe not to run, with a suggestion that Abe would later support Kishida as his successor.[17] By mid-2020, several senior LDP lawmakers had shifted their support from Kishida to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso was also popular for sending stimulus payments to households during the COVID-19 pandemic.[18] Kishida ran in the 2020 LDP presidential election but lost out to Suga, who became prime minister;[19] Kishida was not offered a position in the Suga cabinet, although his faction obtained two cabinet seats.[20]

Prime Minister of Japan (2021–present) edit

Kishida is elected by the Diet, 4 October 2021.

Following Yoshide Suga's announcement on 3 September 2021 that he would resign, following low approval ratings (at one point below 30%), and a new wave of COVID-19 infections, Kishida and Taro Kono of Shikōkai faction were in the lead to replace him.[21] Suga's decision to not seek re-election as head of the LDP triggered another leadership election in September, just a little more than a year after the previous election in 2020. Throughout the race, Kono was heavily favored to win as he remained in first place among various LDP polls, and he received endorsements by Suga and others.[22]

On 29 September 2021, Kishida defeated Taro Kono in a runoff vote to become the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and replaced outgoing party leader Yoshihide Suga. He received a total of 257 votes (60.19%), from 249 parliamentary members and eight rank-and-file members, to become Japan's next prime minister.[23]

2021 general election and Second Cabinet edit

The First Kishida Cabinet took office on 4 October 2021 and consisted of 21 members, including 13 who joined the Cabinet for the first time while also including 2 veterans, Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi, who retained their respective posts from the previous cabinet under Suga;[24] however, on the same day, Kishida announced he would call a general election for 31 October 2021.[25] Kishida gave his first speech as prime minister on 8 October 2021, vowing to fight and end the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan as well as announcing measures to counter the perceived threats by China and North Korea.[26]

Following the 2021 Japanese general election, Kishida maintained the premiership, although the LDP lost 25 seats.[27] He formed the Second Kishida Cabinet by replacing Toshimitsu Motegi with Yoshimasa Hayashi as the Foreign Minister; Motegi became the party's Secretary-General.[28]

Domestic policy edit

Economy edit

In December 2022, Kishida instructed his government to increase "national security-related spending" to 2 percent of Japan's GDP, while increasing the military budget from 5.4 trillion yen ($40 billion) in 2022 to 8.9 trillion yen ($66 billion) by 2027, up 65%. This would lead to a spending a total of around 43 trillion yen ($321 billion) between 2023-2027, up 56% from 2019–2023.[29]

Kishida appointed Kazuo Ueda as Governor of the Bank of Japan in April 2023, who stated he planned to continue the ultra easy monetary policy introduced by the outgoing Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.[30] A few weeks before his next cabinet reshuffle, Kishida stated he wanted to raise the hourly minimum wage in Japan to about ¥1,500 ($10.29) by 2030.[31]

Child care edit

Kishida set child care as his government's priority for the year 2023. He emphasized the potential consequences of child poverty and declining birth rates, and stated that his administration would increase monetary child benefits given to parents.[32] Kishida announced a plan to double the country's children-related budget by June 2023, and instructed government ministers in the administration to outline child care plans by the end of March 2023.[33][34]

Kishida established the Children and Families Agency in 1 April 2023 to serve as a new administrative body within the Cabinet Office to tackle issues relating to child welfare.[35] This includes nursery access, child allowances, the fight against child poverty, child abuse and suicide prevention, cyberbullying, and support for children with disabilities, all of which had been handled by different government agencies. On 1 June, the Japanese government set aside ¥3.5 trillion annually for child care.[36]

Japan's child poverty rate declined to 11.5 percent by 2022. UNICEF ranked Japan eighth among 39 developed countries (OECD) in tackling child poverty in 2023.[37] The media's response to Kishida's child care policies has been mixed, with The Guardian's Justin McCurry criticizing them as ineffective for not raising Japan's birth rate.[38]

COVID edit

On 13 March 2023, Kishida's government ended the request for citizens to wear face masks in public, a policy initiated to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan that was made 3 years earlier.[39] On 27 April, Kishida's Health Minister, Katsunobu Katō, announced that the government would downgrade the classification of COVID-19 to be on par with "seasonal flu", by 8 May.[40]

The media's response to Kishida's COVID policies has been mixed, with the Mainichi Shimbun warning that the COVID classification-downgrade could result in the "collapse" of Okinawa's medical system during a surge in June 2023.[41]

Fukushima water release edit

In April 2021, the government of Yoshihide Suga, Kishida's predecessor, announced that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) would eventually begin to discharge stored and treated water from the dismantled Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean, a process that would take 30 years.[42] Kishida's government confirmed they would continue with the water release, in August 2023.[43] Proceeding the water dump, Kishida's government reached an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the levels of tritium in the stored water that would be discharged, and received a comprehensive report affirming the safety of the operation from Rafael Grossi, the IAEA's Secretary-General, in July 2023.[44] Later in August, Grossi stated that the levels of tritium were vastly below the safety standards recommended by the IAEA, and confirmed the water wasn't toxic.[45] Before the dumping, the Ministry of Environment confirmed IAEA standards were being followed, and the levels of radioactive tritium in the water would remain below IAEA dilution regulations.[46] TEPCO announced that dumping had begun on 24 August 2023, beginning the discharge of the water. No errors were reported in the release.[47]

Kishida inspecting the Fukushima nuclear plant, 20 August 2023.

Following the announcement of the water release, there was positive and negative feedback from both inside Japan and internationally. Domestic organizations, such as the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, were opposed to the plan.[43] The strongest foreign backlash came from China, which was opposed to the dumping. The Chinese central government placed an outright ban on all Japanese fish products, which accounted for the largest of Japan's fish exports.[48] China was heavily criticized for the ban, and was also accused of hypocrisy and spreading disinformation, as they had released nuclear waste water previously that contained significantly higher levels of tritium.[49] In the days following the release, a number of phone calls regarding the water release from Chinese speakers were made harassing people, companies, and government agencies in Japan.[50] Kishida said the calls were "deplorable", and appealed to China to urge its government to ask its citizens to stop the harassing calls.[51] The phone calls came as protests occurred  in China, as well in South Korea and Japan.[52] The Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory urging Japanese citizens to use caution in China, citing an escalation of harassments and violent protests. Sanae Takaichi, the Minister of State for Economic Security, said the government would consider filing a World Trade Organization complaint in response to the import bans imposed by China.[53] The United States affirmed their support for the water release; American ambassador Rahm Emanuel even visited Fukushima and ate seafood to demonstrate a show of support.[54] In South Korea, various protest were held against the decision. However, the South Korean government did not oppose the plan, and President Yoon also ate seafood from Fukushima to encourage others that it was safe.[55]

Through the early stages of the release, the Environment Ministry conducted numerous tests concerning the levels of tritium in the water as well as in the fish, and stated the levels remained low.[56] The effects on the fish markets were expected to be severe, and Kishida promised to financially support local fisheries.[57] On August 30, Kishida, along with three cabinet ministers, publicly ate fish sashimi from Fukushima in an effort to dispel fears of radioactive contamination.[58] He called it "safe and delicious".[59]

Foreign relations edit

Kishida at the 2022 Quadrilateral Security Dialogue meeting with Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, US president Joe Biden and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi

In keeping with the Free and Open Indo-Pacific policy, Kishida has visited Quad nations such as India and Australia to ensure the status quo in the region remains unchanged.[60] Kishida has also visited nations in Europe, along with Canada and the United States, with Japan hosting the 49th G7 summit in May 2023.[61] Kishida has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and visisted Kyiv in a historic trip.[62] In November 2022, he accused China of violating Japan's sovereignty in the East China Sea and criticised the persecution of the Uyghur minority in China's Xinjiang province.[63] Kishida supported Bangladesh's efforts to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.[64] Kishida attended the 2022 NATO summit in Spain, as well as the 2023 NATO summit in Lithuania.[65]

In October 2023, Kishida condemned Hamas' actions during the Israel–Hamas war and expressed his support to Israel and its right to self-defense.[66]

Defense and the G7 edit

Kishida at the 49th G7 summit in Hiroshima, May 2023

In November 2022, Kishida instructed his government to increase military spending to 2 percent of Japan's GDP, up from 1 percent previously, by 2027. Following this resolution by the cabinet, Kishida began a tour of members of the Group of Seven in January 2023. Kishida first met with President Emanuel Macron of France on 9 January 2023.[67] The following day, he met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and agreed on a "strategic partnership".[68] On 11 January 2023, Kishida met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, where the two signed a joint defence pact.[69] The following day, Kishida met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa to discuss trade and other issues.[70] On 13 January, Kishida visited President Joe Biden of the United States in Washington, D.C.;[71] the previous day Japan's Foreign Minister and Defense Minister met with their American counterparts, where they affirmed the Japan-United States alliance remained unchanged.[72]

In 2023 Japan chaired the Group of Seven, with the 49th G7 summit being hosted in Hiroshima Prefecture in May of that year.[73] As the host leader, Kishida invited various leaders from the "Global South", including Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among others.[74][75] With the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kishida also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.[76] On 19 May 2023, Kishida and the other G7 leaders arrived at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where they paid respects and visited the museum.[77] That day, the leaders also issued a joint statement on Ukraine, and affirmed their support for Ukraine and the rule of law.[78] The summit concluded on 21 May, and was ultimately considered a success by Kishida.[79][80][81]

Russian invasion of Ukraine edit

Kishida inspecting the burial place in the city of Bucha

On 24 February 2022, following the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kishida joined other leaders of the G7 nations in imposing economic sanctions on Russia. Kishida's proposed sanctions were much harsher than the largely symbolic sanctions imposed by the government of Shinzo Abe on Russia following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea. Liberal Democratic Party leaders feared that a lackluster response by Japan to the Ukrainian crisis would result in a lack of support from Japan's European allies in the event of potential Chinese attack against Taiwan.[82] In March 2022, Kishida announced that Japan would accept Ukrainian refugees.[83]

In December 2022 the Kishida government announced a $320 billion increase in military spending, due in part to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[84][85] On January 14, 2023, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for Kishida to commit "seppuku" after he and Joe Biden warned Russia against using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.[86]

In February 2023, Kishida said Japan would provide roughly $5.5 billion in aid to Ukraine during the invasion.[87] Kishida invited President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to a virtual meeting of G7 leaders, which was held on 24 February 2023, the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The G7 announced it would introduce "new coordinated economic actions" in efforts to support Ukraine.[88] Kishida was the last G7 leader to visit Kyiv during the invasion; pressure grew for him to do so following Biden's visit in February 2023.[89] On 21 March 2023, Kishida visited Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.[90] Kishida also visited Bucha in Ukraine's Kyiv Oblast, the site of a civilian massacre that was perpetrated by Russia.[91] Kishida was praised for the visit, and said he was "outraged by the cruelty".[92] In May 2023, Japan announced it would provide 100 military vehicles to the Ukrainian military.[93] Kishida led G7 leaders in announcing a joint declaration of support for Ukraine, during the 2023 Vilinius summit for NATO.[94]

Indonesia edit

Kishida meets President Jokowi in Tokyo, July 2022.

On 27 July 2022 Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday he and President Joko Widodo had agreed during talks to cooperate in a variety of fields, including energy and maritime security. Japan also agreed to provide 43.6 billion yen ($318.25 million) in loans to Indonesia for use in infrastructure projects and disaster prevention, Reuters reported. At the outset of the meeting in Tokyo, Kishida told Jokowi that Japan hopes to work with Indonesia to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region, a vision that Japan is pursuing amid China's rise. Jokowi, meanwhile, conveyed his condolences over the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month, saying the late former leader helped advance bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.[95]

On 14 November 2022 President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) commended Japan's support for Indonesia's G20 Presidency as well as for other concrete projects that have been established. PM Kishida also praised Jokowi for welcoming him to a side meeting ahead of the implementation of the G20 Summit to be held on 15–16 November. Regarding the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Indonesia in 2023, Kishida believes that the partnership between the two countries will continue to strengthen.[96]

Korea edit

Kishida meeting with South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol in 2023

On relations between Japan and South Korea, both Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol have taken steps to mend and expand ties, while attempting to settle historical issues stemming from World War II and the Japanese occupation of Korea.[97] In remarks on 1 March 2023, Yoon said that Japan had gone from 'aggressor to partner'.[98] On 16 March 2023 Kishida held a summit with Yoon in Tokyo to settle war time labor disputes, among other issues.[99][100]

On 7 May 2023, Kishida arrived in Seoul for a two day trip to South Korea.[101] The reciprocal trip was the first between leaders of Japan and South Korea in 12 years.[102] During his visit, Yoon said that the historical issues had to be "completely settled".[103] While in Seoul, Kishida expressed sympathies to Koreans who lived under the Japanese Empire.[104] Kishida was criticized by some in South Korea for not directly apologizing during the meeting.[105] The meetings were praised by US President Joe Biden, calling it a "groundbreaking new chapter of cooperation and partnership" between both nations.[106]

Kishida invited President Yoon to attend the 49th G7 summit in Hiroshima as an invitee.[74] President Biden also invited Kishida and Yoon to meet in Washington D.C. during the G7 Hiroshima summit for further talks.[107] Kishida met with Yoon and Biden on 18 August during a historic summit hosted by Biden at Camp David in the United States. The three announced the Camp David Principles, a set of strategies to counter the influence of China, North Korea, and Russia as well as limit the risk of economic disruptions in the future.[108] All three nations agreed to further expand military ties, which involved intelligence sharing, annual military drills, and a wider security pact.[109] Biden again praised both leaders for their "...political courage... to work together."[110] The summit additionally reaffirmed a shared goal of a "free and open Indo-Pacific", a concept first introduced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016.[111] During the summit, Kishida also promised Biden $2 million in relief aid for the wildfires in Hawaii.[112] The summit was a first of its kind and was hailed as the beginning of a new era by the US.[113]

In 2024, it was reported that Kishida was seeking a meeting with high level North Korean officials. A direct meeting between Kishida and Kim Jong Un would be the first of it's kind in over twenty years. Kishida had previously stated in May of 2023 that "I am determined to face Kim Jong Un directly myself, without any preconditions," and settle the issue of the North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens. Hopes for the summit were buoyed by North Korean condolences after the 2024 Noto earthquake. Such plans are considered to be highly controversial in South Korea, particularly with president Yoon Suk Yeol, who has taken a hardline stance on North Korea compared to former president Moon Jae-in. It was also said that the plans were an attempt to boost Kishida's domestic popularity, which had been in decline.[114][115]

Africa edit

Kishida with Kenyan President William Ruto, 2 May 2023

Kishida has attempted to deepen ties between Japan and African nations, while also promoting peace and stability in the region. In August 2022, while addressing a summit in Tunisia, Kishida promised $30 billion in aid for the development of African countries for the next 3 years.[116][117]

Later on 30 April 2023, Kishida began an African tour and visited the League of Arab States based in Egypt, and met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi; Kishida offered a yen loan to fund a metro line project in Cairo.[118] The next day on 1 May, Kishida visited Ghana. During a meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo, Kishida emphasized the importance of Japanese investment in the country, and bilateral relations in the international arena.[119] Ghana and Japan both agreed to pursue reforms in the UN Security Council as well.[120] While in Ghana, Kishida pledged $500 million in more financial aid to Africa, in perceived contrast from China's Belt and Road Initiative in the continent.[121] On 3 May, Kishida arrived in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. He met with Kenyan President William Ruto, who agreed to deepen cooperation and to bolster economic and energy ties.[122] The two condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and reiterated their desire for a peaceful Indo-Pacific.[123] Kishida announced that Japan would continue to give assistance for infrastructure in Kenya. Ruto and Kishida signed an agreement allowing Kenyans to access jobs in Japan, bolstering economic relations.[124]

Assassination of Shinzo Abe and cabinet reshuffle edit

Kishida delivering the memorial address at the state funeral of Shinzo Abe

After the assassination of Shinzo Abe on 8 July 2022, Kishida condemned the assassination,[125] but refused to suspend political campaigning so as to demonstrate that democracy would not be impeded by violence. He later blamed insufficient police protection for allowing the murder to occur.[126] Because of media reports on the ties between the LDP and the Unification Church, a Korean cult accused of scamming Japanese followers (including the suspect's mother) out of much of their wealth, Kishida reshuffled his Cabinet on 10 August 2022, which included removing Abe's brother, Nobuo Kishi, from the role of Minister of Defense.[127] Taro Kono was made the Minister of Digital Affairs. While the majority of members of the LDP, including Shinzo Abe and Nobuo Kishi, were related to the church to various degrees, there were no evidences of Kishida having any direct tie with the church or any of its affiliated entities.[128] However, it was reported in the 1 September issue of Shūkan Bunshun that Mineo Nakayama [ja], the president of a Kumamoto circle for backing Kishida's bid for the premiership, was also a chairperson of a Unification Church-affiliated group which was advocating for building the Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel. Both Kishida and Nakayama denied any knowledge of the tunnel advocacy group being related to the Unification Church.[129]

On 4 December 2023, Kishida denied having knowledge about the involvement of Newt Gingrich and Masayoshi Kajikuri [ja] with the Unification Church during a meeting in October 2019, arranged by Abe. Gingrich, the former US House Speaker, is also known as a strong supporter of the Unification Church. On the other hand, Kajikuri is the chairman of numerous organizations associated with the church.[130][131] Kajikuri was known to have invited Abe to a 2021 online conference held by one of the fronts of the church, Universal Peace Federation, and that particular appearance is cited as one of the major reasons that drove a church victim, Tetsuya Yamagami, into assassinating Abe in July 2022.[132]

Assassination attempt edit

Kishida (the day after the attack) during a press conference

On 15 April 2023, a man threw a cylindrical explosive device at Kishida shortly before he was due to make a campaign speech in Wakayama. The device exploded after a short delay during which Kishida was evacuated from the scene unharmed. Ryuji Kimura, a 24-year-old man from Hyogo Prefecture, was arrested at the scene, with cameras showing him holding what appeared to be a second cylindrical object as he was tackled to the ground. The incident took place as Kishida was talking with a candidate of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party just before his scheduled speech. Kishida immediately left by car after the incident and continued with his stump speech elsewhere in the city. He stated at an event later in the day that "elections are a bedrock of democracy," adding that it was extremely unforgivable that such violence took place.[133][134] Kimura was indicted by Wakayama prosecutors on 7 September 2023 for attempted murder, among other charges.[135]

Funds scandal and Second Reshuffled Cabinet edit

After news leaked in December of a slush fund scandal involving several Abe faction ministers and party bosses, including Yasutoshi Nishimura and Kōichi Hagiuda, Kishida sacked several of his own ministers involved in the scandal, including Nishimura along with Hirokazu Matsuno and a group of other Abe faction members. Along with this, further members of the faction resigned from their posts in the House of Representatives. It is believed that the Abe faction hid away over 500 million yen worth of money over five years. Kishida pledged to "work like a ball of fire" to regain public trust after news broke.[136][137] Kishida also announced his resignation as the head of Kōchikai and announced he will leave the faction while he serves as premier.[138] In mid-January, it was revealed that Kishida's own faction, the Kōchikai, failed to declare 30 million yen in fundraising from parties over a three year period. Kishida told the media it was a result of "clerical errors". Kishida is not expected to face prosecution for the error.[139]

Despite public belief hitting 91% that the LDP and Kishida would not undertake any change, the Prime Minister made a dramatic announcement at which he pledged to dissolve his own faction and announced support for other factions inside the LDP to be dissolved as well. The Abe faction also followed shortly over. Despite this, however, conflict remains, specifically with former Prime Minister Tarō Asō, who directly defied Kishida's want to dissolve the remaining groupings inside the party. Asō leads the Shikōkai, the third largest-grouping inside the party.[140][141][142] Both Aso and LDP General Secretary Toshimitsu Motegi, the last two hold outs in dissolving factions, eventually stated their intention to turn both of their groupings into policy groups in late January.[143][144] Kishida has also come under fire for Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama ties to the Unification Church, the same group which dogged Kishida's approvals early on in his term. Moriyama was unable to recall his ties to the Church and if he had received funding from them before the 2021 general election. Despite calls to fire him, Kishida has refused so far.[145]

Public approval edit

In early November 2023, a Jiji Press survey showed his cabinet's approval rating falling to 21.3%, the lowest since Tarō Asō in 2008.[146] It further fell to 17.1% in December.[147] Despite his attempts at reform during the slush fund scandal, polls report his cabinet's approval rating as low as 25%, with only 1% of people polled highly approving of his response, and 4% approving highly of his reforms.[148] A Mainichi Shimbun poll in mid-February highlighted his approval rating at 14%, only .6% better than Tarō Asō shortly before the landside DPJ victory in 2009, which also served as the worst modern recorded approval rating.[149]

Political views edit

From 2012 to 2023, Kishida served as the leader of the moderate Kōchikai faction.[1][138][150] and has been described as a moderate conservative[151] and a centrist politician.[152][10]

In the Diet he is president of the parliamentary league for Public Interest Capitalism[153] and the parliamentary league to Create a New Capitalism,[154] is associated with the Nippon Kaigi parliamentary league[155] and is a founding member of the "Realization of Selective Surnames System" Diet group which has the aim of allowing married couples to keep different surnames if they wish.[156]

Economic policy edit

During the 2021 LDP presidential race, he called for Japan to strive for a new form of capitalism to reduce income disparity, saying neoliberalism and deregulation had widened economic gaps in society.[157][158] In a parliamentary session on 20 February 2022 he reiterated that the benefits of growth should not belong to a limited group adding that "[c]apitalism isn't sustainable unless it is something that belongs to all stakeholders".[159]

Foreign relations edit

Kishida with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, February 2017

Kishida is seen as dovish on foreign policy and lukewarm about revising Japan's pacifist constitution.[160][1] Following the political philosophy of his own faction, Kishida has pledged a "humane diplomacy" based on the Peace Constitution, the Japan–U.S. alliance, and the Self-Defense Forces and that he will seek to strengthen Japan–U.S. relations and to promote the free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy while counterbalancing Chinese political assertiveness and military presence in the region.[1] Regarding Chinese influence over Taiwan and Hong Kong, Kishida has stated that the Taiwan Strait may be the "next major diplomatic problem" following "China's clampdown on Hong Kong" and that Japan should seek more cooperation with Taiwan.[161]

In 2017, while serving as foreign minister, Kishida pressured China to push North Korea towards denuclearization.[162] During the race for the leadership of the LDP, Kishida also addressed the issue of Japanese abductees by North Korea and supported a summit between Japan and North Korea to end the issue.[163] Kishida also took a stronger stance than other contenders regarding China and North Korea, saying that Japan should strengthen its defenses, while at the same time recognizing that there is a clash between authoritarianism and democracy in the region, especially with regard to the status of Taiwan.[164]

Fumio Kishida has requested that the German government remove Friedensstatue [de], a variant of the Statue of Peace, in Berlin. The request has caused considerable controversy in South Korea.[165][166][167][168]

Nuclear policy edit

Kishida delivering a speech in October 2017

Kishida is in favor of retaining nuclear power technology, which he says should be considered as a clean energy option, while also calling for the establishment of a $90.7 billion university fund to further stimulate science and promotion of renewable energy.[157]

Being a representative from Hiroshima, Kishida has consistently advocated for Japanese diplomacy to promote nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).[1] In the wake of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kishida rejected former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal for Japan to consider hosting U.S. nuclear weapons as a deterrent, calling it "unacceptable" given the country's stance of maintaining the three non-nuclear principles.[169]

Social issues edit

Kishida stated support for discussions toward allowing married Japanese couples to choose between unified single surnames or separate last names,[170] while on the topic of same-sex marriage Kishida has stated he has not come to support it, saying instead that the public's opinion should be understood before the Diet decides.[171][172] In 2023 he stated that Japan must "be extremely careful in considering the matter as it could affect the structure of family life in Japan".[173] In the Diet's budget committee on February 28, 2023, responding to an opposition lawmaker question, he stated that "I don't think disallowing same-sex couples to marry is unjust discrimination by the state", repeating his position that a same-sex marriage ban "is not unconstitutional" and denying that he is discriminatory adding "I have never stated I'm against it". His comment sparked criticism from opposition lawmakers and LGBTQ activists, who questioned whether Kishida was backpedaling from an earlier meeting that month with LGBTQ representatives to show consideration to ultra-conservatives in his party who oppose sexual diversity.[174]

Personal life edit

In 1988, Kishida married Yuko Kishida, the daughter of a Japanese real estate investor, in an arranged marriage. The couple have three sons.[175] In one presentation, Yuko was featured in the LDP messaging immediately after he became the de facto PM-designate.[8][176] He is a fan of the manga series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and has pledged to financially support the Japanese animation industry during his premiership.[177] He is also a fan of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team.[10]

In May 2023, Kishida dismissed his eldest son, Shotaro Kishida, from his role as policy secretary, effective 1 June 2023, for misuse of government resources.[178] Photos had surfaced of Shotaro hosting parties at the Prime Minister's official residence and of him posing as the Prime Minister. Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, called the actions "inappropriate".[179]

Honours edit

References edit

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External links edit

House of Representatives of Japan
New constituency Representative for Hiroshima's 1st district
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Japan
Party political offices
Preceded by President of the Liberal Democratic Party
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chair of the Group of Seven
Succeeded by