Kishida vows focus on COVID-19 response and 'new capitalism'

Japan Times -- Jan 02
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday vowed to continue to take all necessary measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 while accelerating his push to create a “new capitalism.”

In his New Year’s address, Kishida also said he would step up summit diplomacy in 2022 and that constitutional reform would be a “major theme” of the year.

“I will further enhance prevention, testing and early treatment and reduce the risk that the novel coronavirus poses to society,” Kishida said.

The government is seeking to speed up the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots with the community spread of the omicron variant confirmed in some areas including Tokyo and Osaka. In such regions, free PCR and antigen tests are being provided

To support the pandemic-hit economy, parliament has passed a record Y36 trillion ($313 billion) extra budget for the current fiscal year to March.

The COVID-19 response has taken priority but once the country wins the battle against the virus, the government will focus on policies to achieve growth and wealth distribution, he said.

“Pursuing economic sustainability by creating a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution is the kind of new capitalism that I am aiming for,” he said, calling for further wage hikes and more investment in human resources by companies.

“I will realize more robust growth, countering intense challenges posed by an economic system operating under what can be described as state capitalism,” Kishida said in what was seen as a reference to the Chinese economy.