Japan's next PM Kishida aims to narrow income gap through pay hikes

Kyodo -- Sep 30
Former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, newly elected as the head of the ruling party and set to become the next prime minister, said Wednesday he aims to narrow income inequality in Japan through broad-based salary hikes.

"If incomes increased in a wide range of fields, that would correct the income gap and encourage consumption," Kishida told a press conference after winning the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election earlier in the day to succeed the current party chief and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

"There would be no (wealth) distribution without growth. But it is also true there would be no new growth without distribution," the 64-year-old lawmaker said, vowing to realize a "virtuous cycle of growth and distribution."

Backed by more than half of the Diet members who cast votes, Kishida beat vaccination minister Taro Kono, the most popular candidate among Liberal Democratic Party rank-and-file members, and two female contenders -- former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi and LDP executive acting secretary general Seiko Noda.

To urge the broader private sector to raise wages, the new LDP president revealed a plan to realize pay hikes for nurses, care workers and childcare workers who are "underpaid for the amount of work they do."