Japanese Prime Minister Kishida pledges dedication to ending COVID-19 crisis

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By Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO – Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday that he would do everything possible to get Japan out of the COVID-19 while protecting its territory and its people in an increasingly harsh security environment.

Kishida took the top job in the world’s third-largest economy on Monday, replacing Yoshihide Suga, who had seen his support undermined by the skyrocketing COVID-19 contaminations. Daily cases have recently declined and a long state of emergency was lifted this month.

“I am determined to devote myself body and soul to overcome this national crisis with the people, create a new era and pass on to the next generation a country whose citizens are rich in heart,” Kishida said in his first political speech. in parliament.

A big early test for him will be leading his Liberal Democratic Party to power (LDP) in the general election of October 31.

The 64-year-old former foreign minister, who has a reputation for being a quiet consensus builder, said the government would quickly put in place a stimulus package to support those hard hit by the pandemic and take action legislative to secure medical resources.

He did not specify the size of the stimulus package in his speech, but last month he suggested a sum of 30 trillion yen ($ 268 billion).

Earlier, Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said he hoped to compile a supplementary budget to fund the stimulus package immediately after the election and have it approved by parliament by the end of the year.

Kishida stressed the need to support those who need it to gain public cooperation and called for cash payments to companies hit hard by the pandemic.

He also pledged to make cash payments to so-called non-regular workers, families with children and those struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic.

Kishida reiterated his determination to overcome deflation and said he would pursue bold monetary easing, swift budget spending and a growth strategy.

“We will conduct budget spending without hesitation to respond to crises and ensure that all possible measures are taken,” he said.

‘TO SAY WHATNEEDS TO BE NOTED

Regarding national security and foreign affairs, Kishida said he would protect the peace and stability of Japan.

“As the security environment surrounding the country hardens, I will resolutely protect our territory, our territorial waters, our airspace and the lives and property of the people,” he told Parliament.

Japan faces China’s rapid military rise and aggressive maritime expansion, as a threat from North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Kishida said he plans to update the national security strategy and aims to strengthen the capacity of the coast guard and missile defense.

Kishida had phone conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, media reported.

The calls marked the first time Kishida had spoken to either leader since taking office as prime minister, Kyodo News said.

Regarding relations with China, Kishida said in her speech that establishing stable relations and maintaining dialogue is important but that Japan will not mince words if necessary.

“While working with countries with which we share universal values, we say what needs to be said to China and strongly demand that it behave responsibly. We also maintain dialogue and continue to cooperate with them to resolve common issues, ”he said.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on man-made islands. It also claims a group of islets administered by Japan in the East China Sea.

Calling Japan’s security alliance with the United States “a cornerstone of world peace and prosperity,” Kishida said he intends to build on that alliance.

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