Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Wednesday voted for Fumio Kishida as their new leader who on October 4, parliament will appoint him as the country's prime minister. Kishida will become Japan's 100th prime minister since the country adopted a Cabinet system in 1885 and succeeds Yoshihide Suga, who did not run for reelection as party leader.
Kishida owes his election victory to the LPD's old guard, such as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who wield vast amounts of behind-the-scenes power.
Allegedly the support for conservative Kishida had the purpose of preventing the popular Vaccines minister Taro Kono from becoming prime minister, who is considered maybe too progressive.
Kishida's family also belongs to the LDP establishment, which has ruled Japan almost without interruption since 1955. He comes from a political dynasty, with both his father and grandfather serving in parliament. Kishida himself has been a member of the legislature since 1993 and heads his own party faction that includes 46 MPs.
Most recently, he was chairman of the Political Research Council, holding one of the three highest party posts. Nevertheless, he is a stronger advocate for change than his predecessor Suga.
When it comes to economic policy, Kishida says he wants to continue the economic reforms, known as Abenomics, initiated by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, focusing on expansionary monetary and fiscal policies.
He also wants to put together a massive stimulus package worth about 30 trillion yen (€231 billion, US$ 269 billion) by the end of the year to help Japanese businesses hit by the economic damage wrought by the COVID pandemic.
But at the same time, during the campaign for party leader, he promised a shift away from the neoliberalism of the past two decades and announced a new Japanese capitalism.
In other issues and in a bid to fulfill environmental pledges and ensure climate neutrality by 2050, Kishida calls for a realistic assessment for restarting and building new nuclear reactors.
Between 2013 and 2017, Kishida served as foreign minister and, for a time, defense minister. The faction he leads is considered the dovish wing of the LDP, advocating for the nation's pacifist constitution and against the nuclear arming of Japan.
Kishida himself is from Hiroshima and several members of his family died when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city in 1945. In one of his books, he advocates for a world without nuclear weapons.