Fumio Kishida unveils platform in bid to stand out from Suga
Japan Times -- Sep 04
Fumio Kishida, the Liberal Democratic Party’s policy council chairman and one of three contenders in its leadership election, took a swing Thursday at the leading candidate, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, unveiling campaign pledges promising economic and foreign policies that would succeed but differentiate from those of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“No policies work the same for five or 10 years consecutively; it’s basic that the world isn’t that simple as times change,” Kishida said at a news conference. “Besides, as we face this battle with the novel coronavirus and very difficult times domestically, our party needs to choose a new leader. I’ll battle through this presidential election by presenting my thoughts and viewpoints toward a new era.”

Kishida attempted to draw a distinction from Suga, who declared his candidacy Wednesday and essentially stole the policy council chief’s thunder by identifying himself as Abe’s successor — a title that was supposed to be handed down.

Touting the slogan “from division to unity,” Kishida also took a subtle swipe at Abe, whose policies have been criticized as polarizing, and thus also Suga, seeking to brand himself as someone capable of bringing out his own character.

In the Abe administration, Kisida served as foreign minister for four years and eight months. He was expected to run in the party’s 2018 presidential election, but he ultimately decided to bow out in deference to Abe — allowing him to return to power for a third term.

Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister who is also running in the forthcoming leadership vote, persisted in 2018 with a straight battle against Abe. He has since been subjected to cold treatment within the party.

Until recently, the prime minister had cherished Kishida as his favored successor. But after announcing he would step down, Abe declined to endorse Kishida, paving the way for five out of seven LDP major factions to back Suga.

Against the backdrop of the prime minister’s expectations, Kishida has so far held back from obtaining public approval or wielding the influence afforded by his role as chair of the party’s policy council, especially during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

News source: Japan Times
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