| 26 October 2021, Tuesday |

Japan’s new PM Kishida to face opposition questions for first time

On Monday, Japan’s new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, will be questioned in parliament for the first time since taking office last week. It will be the first opportunity for the opposition to scrutinize Kishida’s promises and ambitions.

With the general election coming up in three weeks, dealing with the next wave of the coronavirus pandemic and reconstructing a faltering economy are likely to be hot topics of discussion.

Although there has been a respite in new coronavirus infections in Japan, scientists have warned that the number of cases would certainly rise as winter approaches.

The main opposition party supports increased testing and has already stated that Japan should stop switching between soft and hard lockdowns.

Kishida, on the other hand, has stated that the government will draft a stimulus plan worth tens of billions of yen to help those affected by the epidemic and aid recovery from the coronavirus.

Kishida has also advocated for a “new sort of capitalism” that bridges the wealth divide as a strategy to lift the economy out of its funk.

However, considering that he toned down his contemplation of revising the country’s capital gains and dividends taxes as a strategy to redistribute wealth, the practicality of his promises may come under criticism.

“I have no plan to touch the financial income tax for the time being … There are many other things to tackle first,” Kishida told commercial broadcaster Fuji Television Network on Sunday.

The opposition could also question Kishida on his party’s manifesto ahead of the Oct. 31 general election. A draft obtained by Reuters showed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) wants to double the defence budget if possible.

Japan faces an increasingly assertive China and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes – both issues that Kishida has expressed concern over, saying he is determined to protect the Japanese people in an increasingly tough security environment.