Kishida stresses 'dialogue,' distinguishes self from Abe, Suga

By The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed his stance of focusing on dialogue, calling for "politics that can earn trust and empathy," in his first policy speech on Friday. His aim is to distinguish himself from his predecessors Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, who pushed policy measures at the initiative of the Prime Minister's Office but often met with criticism for their lack of accountability.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together," Kishida said at the end of his policy speech, using an African proverb to show his intention to overcome the novel coronavirus pandemic and other challenges together with the people.

Kishida vowed to reflect the needs of the people in public administration by instructing all his Cabinet ministers to hold dialogues with the public. This stance is based on the example set by former Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki when the LDP was in the opposition camp.

During the LDP presidential election, Kishida described his strength as carefully listening to people. In his speech on Friday, he cited some of the people's voices, of which he had taken notes, and pledged to provide "careful explanations that will convince the people" when dealing with issues related to the coronavirus.

-- Ability to attack enemy base eyed

As the policy speech was delivered before the upcoming House of Representatives election, Kishida apparently made efforts to appeal to both conservative and liberal supporters.

In response to a series of missile launches by North Korea, Kishida expressed an intention to work on building missile defense capabilities, which will include enhanced measures. He made the remark with an eye toward Japan having the ability to attack an enemy missile base, based on the right of self-defense.

During his campaign for the LDP presidency, Kishida called the possession of such a capability a "key option," but he stopped short of mentioning it directly in his policy speech.

"It was a speech that reflected Kishida's style and was different from Abe's style, which featured catchy phrases, and Suga's with a bland tone," Hiroshige Seko, secretary general for the LDP in the House of Councillors, told reporters after the policy speech.

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