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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 January 31 - February 6  > PM Kishida’s policy speech gives off ‘emptiness’ and ‘danger’
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2024 January 31 - February 6 [POLITICS]

PM Kishida’s policy speech gives off ‘emptiness’ and ‘danger’

January 31, 2024
“Emptiness” and “danger” - these are the words that stood out in Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s policy speech on January 30.

What highlighted the emptiness is that the policy speech included no concrete measures to be urgently taken to relieve people and recover areas affected by the Noto Peninsula earthquake. Desperate concerns and demands are overflowing in the disaster-struck region, such as these: “Supply hot meals”, “I don’t know what to do about where to live,” and “I can’t go fishing due to damage to my fishing boat.”

Unconvincing words

PM Kishida recalled his visit to the disaster-struck region, and said that at an evacuation center, he heard from disaster victims not only about “various anxieties” but also about “opinions valuable to help support the victims and the reconstruction of the region”. However, in his policy speech, he gave no details of government actions to be taken including ways to improve the quality of shelter environments and help disaster victims rebuild their lives and livelihoods. He only stated that the “power of bonds” has become a “new force” through public-private collaboration and other means. He failed to show how disaster victims’ “valuable stories” will be materialized.

In addition, he tried to fudge the slow start of relief operations for the affected residents and areas by attributing to a cutoff of the traffic network, a disruption of sea transport, and serious damage to lifelines. He said, “We are facing a series of difficult circumstances associated with the earthquake.”

The political funding scandal embroiling LDP factions will certainly be a major focus of Diet discussions. However, he just commented, “It is extremely regrettable that the LDP created a situation where people cast doubtful eyes at the party,” as if it happened to some other parties. He showed no sign of remorse for the entire LDP which had long engaged in illegal acts systematically in violation of the Political Funds Control Act.

Judging from his speech, he seems to lack a sense of urgency and crisis. No matter how much PM Kishida uses the phrase “recovery of public trust in politics”, the phrase is not convincing at all.

On the other hand, his speech revealed a dangerous path. He called for the strengthening of “earning power”, enumerating support programs for large corporations, for example, tax breaks for investors in specific businesses like semiconductor firms, financial aid, large-scale development projects, and the utilization of nuclear energy.

In particular, he declared that the government will complete the linear Chuo Shinkansen project in order to “recover from the earthquake” and will promote the Osaka-Kansai Expo in order to “overcome the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and large-scale natural disasters”. In PM Kishida’s speech, even disasters and earthquakes were used as tools for profit-making.

In regard to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, PM Kishida in his policy speech said, “Japan will continue to levy sanctions against Russia and promote further assistance to Ukraine.” He, however, did not specifically refer to the Israeli military attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. In addition, he did not call for a ceasefire in the Gaza strip. His speech epitomized Japan’s subservience to the United States which strongly backs Israel.

PM Kishida eager to emasculate Article 9

He furthermore said that the government will “steadily embody the fundamental reinforcement” of Japan’s military capability and declared the promotion of a major arms buildup in line with the demands of the United States. He vowed to promote amendments to the Constitution by saying, “As the LDP president, I would like to realize the revision during my term in office.” He in his speech showed willingness to “embark on drawing up draft texts of new provisions” and demonstrated his eagerness to take the teeth out the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

While paying no heed to earnest public demands, the government pleases the business circles and the United States. PM Kishida’s policy speech highlighted the deadlock in LDP policies.
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