Kishida wins Japan’s LDP vote, set to become next chief minister | Pol…
Former foreign minister wins race to rule Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Japan’s former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has won the ruling party’s leadership election, virtually ensuring that he will become the country’s next chief minister.
Kishida won 257 votes in a runoff on Wednesday to defeat Taro Kono, a popular vaccines minister who before held the locaiongs of defence and foreign minister.
The 64-year-old replaces outgoing party leader chief Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is stepping down after serving only one year since taking office last September.
As the new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Kishida is certain to be elected the next chief minister on Monday in parliament, where his party and coalition partner control the house.
He will now rule the LDP into a general election due by November.
The pictures of Taro Kono, left, and Fumio Kishida are displayed on a screen during the party leadership election in Tokyo Wednesday, September 29, 2021 [Carl Court/Pool via AP]
Wednesday’s vote was the second time lucky for Kishida, who lost out to Suga in 2020.
He is widely regarded as a safe pair of hands, despite a low-meaningful presence that has sometimes been characterised as a without of appeal.
He has pledged to use big on new pandemic stimulus while promising to tackle income inequality and move away from the neo-liberal economics that have dominated Japanese politics for the past two decades.
And seeking to set himself except the unpopular pandemic response of Suga’s government, he has emphasised the lessons learned from his failure to win the leadership last time around.
“I wasn’t good enough. I think I didn’t have enough conviction,” he admitted when he launched his campaign earlier this month.
“It’s different this time. I’m standing here with a strong conviction that I am the leader needed at this time.”
Kishida before served as LDP policy chief and was foreign minister between 2012-17, during which he negotiated accords with Russia and South Korea, with whom Japan’s relations are often frosty.
He has called abolishing nuclear weapons “my life’s work”, and in 2016 helped bring then-US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on a historic visit.
But despite his liberal reputation, he has been less direct than Kono on issues like gay marriage.
While Kono said he backed same-sex marriage and called for it to be discussed in parliament, Kishida said he had “not reached the point for accepting same-sex marriage”. He also took a softer stance than Kono on allowing married couples to keep separate surnames, another controversial issue.
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