Nobuo Kishi

Nobuo Kishi (岸 信夫, Kishi Nobuo, born April 1, 1959) is a Japanese politician who currently serves as a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet and as Minister of Defense. He is a younger brother of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a grandson of former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.

Nobuo Kishi
岸 信夫
Nobuo Kishi CTBT Regional Conference 2014 crop.jpg
Nobuo Kishi at the CTBT Regional Conference in Jakarta, 2014.
Minister of Defense
Assumed office
16 September 2020
Prime MinisterYoshihide Suga
Preceded byTarō Kōno
Member of the House of Representatives
Assumed office
12 December 2012
Preceded byHideo Hiraoka
ConstituencyYamaguchi 2nd district
Member of the House of Councillors
In office
26 July 2004 – 30 November 2012
Preceded byMasuo Matsuoka
Succeeded byEjima Kiyoshi
Personal details
安倍 信夫 (Abe Nobuo)

(1959-04-01) 1 April 1959 (age 62)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic
Alma materKeio University

Early lifeEdit

Nobuo is the third son of Shintaro Abe and Yoko Abe (nee Kishi). He was born in Tokyo. Shortly after his birth, he was adopted by his maternal uncle, Seibu Oil chairman Nobukazu Kishi, who could not have children of his own.[1] He did not know about his actual parentage, or his relationship with Shintaro Abe's other sons (Hironobu and Shinzo Abe), until he was preparing to enter university.

Kishi spent the first decade of his life living with his grandfather Nobusuke in Tokyo.[2] He graduated from the Faculty of Economics at Keio University in 1981 and joined Sumitomo Corporation, where he worked until 2002. His postings included the United States, Vietnam, and Australia.

Political careerEdit

With his brother Abe's backing, Kishi was elected to the House of Councillors in 2004, representing Yamaguchi Prefecture.[2] He became known as a specialist in security issues.[3] He has served as Parliamentary Secretary for Defense (Fukuda and Aso Cabinet), Vice Chairman, LDP Diet Affairs Committee in the House of Councillors, Vice Chairman, Party Organization and Campaign Headquarters of LDP, Chairman, Special Committee on Okinawa and Northern Problems.[4]

Abe governmentEdit

Kishi was elected to the House of Representatives in the 2012 Japanese general election after resigning from his House of Councillors seat. He re-took a seat in Yamaguchi Prefecture that had previously belonged to his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi and great-uncle Eisaku Sato, but that had been lost to the Democratic Party of Japan in the 2009 Japanese general election.[2] Following the 2012 election, Kishi's brother Abe became Prime Minister. Kishi was promoted to Senior Vice Foreign Minister in 2013.[5]

Kishi became known during this time for his role in promoting the Japan-Taiwan relationship. He helped to arrange an historic meeting between Prime Minister Abe and ROC opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen in 2015.[2] After Tsai's reelection as president, Kishi met with Tsai in Taiwan in January 2020 and again in July 2020 (when he attended the funeral of President Lee Teng-hui).[6]

In 2019, he publicly advocated for Japan acquiring strike capabilities as a defensive measure against North Korea, stating that Japan should not rely upon the United States for defense.[3]

Suga governmentEdit

Kishi was appointed as Minister of Defense under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in September 2020. Commentator Michael Bosack described this as "a strange pick that signals factional influence and possibly a personal favor," and argued that the faction led by Hiroyuki Hosoda was clearly trying to build Kishi's credentials.[7] Following the news of Kishi's appointment, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman expressed hope that Japan would refrain from developing official ties with Taiwan.[6]

In October 2020, Kishi released a joint statement with Australian Minister of Defense Linda Reynolds that announced that Japan's Self Defense Forces would be enabled to protect Australian military assets, an act which was made legal in September 2015 through the "Peace and Security Preservation Legislation" passed under the Abe administration. This makes Australia the second country (after the United States) whose assets Japan would be permitted to protect.[8] Kishi and Reynolds also emphasized their opposition to "any destabilizing or coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions in the East China Sea," and some analysts have speculated this to be in reference to Chinese maritime activities around the Senkaku Islands.[9]


Like his brother Shinzō, Kishi is affiliated to the openly revisionist lobby Nippon Kaigi,[10] and a member of the following right-wing groups at the Diet:

  • Nippon Kaigi Diet discussion group (日本会議国会議員懇談会 - Nippon kaigi kokkai giin kondankai)
  • Conference of parliamentarians on the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership (神道政治連盟国会議員懇談会) - NB: SAS a.k.a. Sinseiren, Shinto Political League, Shinto Seiji Renmei Kokkai Giin Kondankai
  • Japan Rebirth (創生「日本」- Sosei Nippon)

Kishi gave the following answers to the questionnaire submitted by Mainichi to parliamentarians in 2012:[11]

  • in favor of the revision of the Constitution
  • in favor of right of collective self-defense (revision of Article 9)
  • against the reform of the National assembly (unicameral instead of bicameral)
  • in favor of reactivating nuclear power plants
  • against the goal of zero nuclear power by 2030s
  • in favor of the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (Okinawa)
  • against the evaluation of the purchase of Senkaku Islands by the Government
  • in favor of a strong attitude versus China
  • against the participation of Japan to the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • in favor of considering a nuclear-armed Japan in the future (however, after his appointment as defense minister in 2020, he stated that this would "never happen")[2]
  • against the reform of the Imperial Household that would allow women to retain their Imperial status even after marriage

In a March 2014 interview, he argued that nationalism was not on the rise in Japan, and that the Abe government would not change Japan's record of striving for peace as a member of international society.[12]


  1. ^ Kamiya, Setsuko (2006-12-30). "Cultural attitudes spell few adoptions". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2018-11-01. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Osaki, Tomohiro (2020-09-17). "Nobuo Kishi, Abe's younger brother, seeks to carve out new role as Japan's defense chief". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2020-10-20. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Jesse; Osaki, Tomohiro (2020-09-16). "Suga expected to take back seat in shaping Japan's foreign policy". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  4. ^ Profile of Kishi Nobuo on LDP website: (retrieved Dec 2, 2014)
  5. ^ "Abe appoints more women, brother to senior government posts". The Japan Times. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  6. ^ a b "Taiwan ties of Japan's new defence chief spark China reaction". South China Morning Post. 2020-09-16. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  7. ^ Bosack, Michael MacArthur (2020-09-16). "Breaking down Suga's picks for his first Cabinet". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  8. ^ "Japan and Australia to coordinate on protection of military assets". The Japan Times. 2020-10-20. Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  9. ^ Bosack, Michael MacArthur (2020-10-22). "Five takeaways from the Australia-Japan defense ministers' joint statement". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  10. ^ Nippon Kaigi website
  11. ^ Mainichi 2012:
  12. ^ "Nationalism not on the rise: Abe's brother". The Japan Times. 2014-03-21. Retrieved 2020-09-16.

External linksEdit

House of Councillors
Preceded by
Masuo Matsuoka
Councillor for Yamaguchi's At-large district
2004 – present
Political offices
Preceded by
Tarō Kōno
Minister of Defence