Kishida reelected Japan’s PM in parliamentary vote
Fumio Kishida was reelected as Japan’s prime minister on Wednesday after his governing party scored a major victory in key parliamentary elections, reports AP.
Elected just over a month ago by parliament, Kishida called a quick election in which his governing party secured 261 seats in the 465-member lower house — the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber legislature — enough to maintain a free hand in pushing legislation through parliament.
The Oct. 31 victory increases his grip on power and is seen as a mandate from voters for his weeks-old government to tackle the pandemic-battered economy, virus measures and other challenges. Kishida said he saw the results as a signal that voters chose stability over change.
Later Wednesday, he will form his second Cabinet by keeping all but one of the ministers he appointed when he took office on Oct. 4, and then map out his economic measures and other key policies at a news conference.
Kishida had been chosen by the Liberal Democrats as a safe, conservative choice a month ago. They had feared heavy election losses if the unpopular Yoshihide Suga had stayed in power. Suga resigned after only a year in office as his popularity plunged over criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics despite concerns of a virus surge.
The better-than-expected election results may give Kishida’s government more power and time to work on campaign promises, including COVID-19 control, economic revitalization and strengthening Japan’s defense capability.
Kishida’s grip on power also may be strengthened by his Cabinet changes.
A key policy expert from his party faction, former Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, will be the new Foreign Minister, while former Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will shift to the governing party’s No. 2 post.
Motegi voted for Kishida in the party leadership race and will replace party heavyweight Akira Amari, who resigned from the post over his unimpressive election outcome due to his past bribery scandal.