The new prime minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, called this Monday a parliamentary election for Oct. 31 and promised to strengthen the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, shortly after being formally elected by Parliament to the position.
Earlier, Kishida, a 64-year-old former foreign minister with an image of a consensus maker, revealed a cabinet dominated by allies of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former Finance Minister Taro Aso.
While he can take advantage of the honeymoon period that voters usually grant new governments, political analysts said Kishida probably doesn’t want to waste time because of the risks of the pandemic, and that he must first organize his party, the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD). ), for the next elections.
His decision to call an election came as a surprise, although a vote had to take place by Nov. 28, as the term of current lawmakers expires on Oct. 21. Parliament will now be dissolved on October 14th.
Kishida said he would consider relief payments to Covid-19, adding that he had also instructed ministers overseeing the pandemic response to propose vaccination policies to strengthen the medical system and expand testing to help reopen the economy.
“Many people are concerned that although the situation has now improved, the number of infections could rise again and, if there is a recovery, whether hospitals will be able to deal with it,” he told reporters.
Tokyo’s new coronavirus cases reached 87 on Monday, the lowest since Nov. 2 of last year.
Yoshihide Suga, Kishida’s predecessor, had 70 percent support shortly after taking office a year ago, but has been rocked by criticism of his handling of the pandemic. Following Suga’s decision to step down and make way for a new face, Kishida defeated three LDP leadership candidates last week, setting the stage for Parliament to officially elect him on Monday.
Of the 20 names in Kishida’s new cabinet, 13 have no ministerial experience, which is in line with the new prime minister’s promise to give new people opportunities, but many of the most important roles have been given to allies of Abe or Finance Minister Aso, who is leaving office.
“He won the election with the support of Abe and Aso, so it’s time for him to return the favor, it’s not time to break with them,” said political analyst Atsuo Ito.
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