Fumio Kishida reelected Japan’s PM in parliamentary vote

marketwatch.com -- Nov 11
Fumio Kishida, reelected as Japan’s prime minister on Wednesday after his governing party scored a major victory in key parliamentary elections, said the coronavirus remains the country’s most urgent issue and pledged to take steps to mend the pandemic-battered economy.

Kishida, who briefly met with U.S. President Joe Biden at the U.N. climate summit last week, said he hopes to visit Washington by the end of the year to deepen the bilateral alliance amid growing concerns about China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific.

Following his reelection by parliament on Wednesday, Kishida formed his second Cabinet by keeping all but one of the ministers he appointed when he took office on Oct. 4.

He said the pandemic, the economy and national security are his top priorities.

“Coronavirus remains the most urgent issue,” Kishida said at a late-night news conference, promising to outline new measures later this week to prepare for any surge in cases.

They will include a significant increase in capacity at hospitals so patients can find beds if infections increase considerably from an earlier wave in the summer, he said. In mid-August, when new daily cases surged to about 25,000 and health care systems virtually collapsed, many patients were unable to find hospital beds and some died at home.

The government will distribute 600,000 doses of COVID-19 oral medicines to medical facilities by the end of December, and eventually secure 1 million more doses, he said. Japan will also begin booster shots next month for anyone 18 or older who received their second dose around eight months earlier, Kishida said.

As Japan tries to gradually expand social and economic activities, Kishida said his government will gradually determine whether it is safe to allow the return of foreign tourists by experimenting with small-scale package tours. “The infections have slowed but we shouldn’t be too optimistic,” he said.

Kishida’s immediate tasks also include compiling a major economic stimulus package of about 30 trillion yen ($265 billion) that will provide cash payouts and coupons for low-income households and those with children, to be announced next week — measures some criticize as pork barrel spending. He also aims to pass an extra budget by the end of this year to fund the projects.

Kishida reiterated his pledge to create a self-reinforcing cycle of growth and economic distribution under his “new capitalism” economic policy by promoting salary increases. He plans to negotiate with labor and company management to promote pay hikes and to raise government-set salaries for jobs such as caregivers, kindergarten teachers and nurses.

衆院選を受けた第206特別国会は10日召集され、岸田文雄首相(64)=自民党総裁=が衆参両院の首相指名選挙で第101代首相に選出された。首相は公明党との連立による第2次岸田内閣を発足させ、10日夜、官邸で記者会見を開いた。 - Kyodo