Press Conference by Prime Minster Kishida

August 10, 2022
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[Provisional translation]

[Opening statement]

I have launched a new LDP-Komeito coalition government, rich in experience and highly capable, in order to carry out policies decisively and thereby overcome challenges said to arise only once every few decades.

With COVID-19, the Ukraine crisis, tensions in U.S.-China relations over Taiwan, and rising prices internationally, various issues have emerged that will define history both within Japan and internationally.

Transforming the confidence the public invested in the Kishida Cabinet in the recent House of Councillors election into concrete shape at the earliest possible time, I have decisively carried out a cabinet reshuffle in order to swiftly assemble a cabinet, tasked with addressing emergencies, that will rise to the expectations of you, the Japanese citizens.

From now, starting with the budget requests at the end of August, we will begin the stage of transitioning into fully-fledged implementation of the policies we have pledged, including with regard to formulating the budget at the end of the calendar year, reforming the tax system, and submitting bills to next year's ordinary Diet session. Also, amidst rising tensions in the international situation, we will create a new international order for the next stage in the post-Cold War era, doing our utmost to safeguard Japan's peace and security.

Through this cabinet reshuffle, even as I maintained my administration's basic framework, I appointed a ministerial lineup that is both experienced and highly capable in dealing with the various issues that have been mounting. They will serve as a cabinet that carries out policies decisively in response to emergencies.

First of all, maintaining the central framework of my administration, I have retained Chief Cabinet Secretary MATSUNO Hirokazu, Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Finance Minister SUZUKI Shunichi, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister SAITO Tetsuo, and Economic Revitalization Minister YAMAGIWA Daishiro.

With them serving as the backbone, there are five areas we will be taking on as priorities.

The first is reinforcing the systems that protect this nation's security and peace of mind. One of the most important issues we face as we head towards the end of the calendar year is the fundamental reinforcement of our defense capabilities. We will press forward in examining what exactly our necessary defense capabilities should entail, assessing the scale of the budget needed to make that a reality, and securing fiscal resources accordingly, working in an integrated and vigorous manner. To achieve this, I have asked Mr. HAMADA Yasukazu to again take up the post of Minister of Defense, where he will demonstrate strong leadership. He has previously served as Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense, State Minister of Defense, and Minister of Defense, and he also brings experience serving as Director of the National Defense Division of the LDP and as Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on National Security, making him extremely knowledgeable about Japan's security and defense policies.

Second, as the economy and security integrate, it is imperative for us to shift into implementing the Economic Security Promotion Act and move quickly to prevent sensitive technology leaks, enhance the resilience of the supply chain, and so on. In light of that, I have appointed to the cabinet Ms. TAKAICHI Sanae, who has, as Chair of the LDP Policy Research Council, driven the LDP's Headquarters for Economic Security Measures and promoted economic security policies. She will take charge of coordinating with related ministries and agencies, industry, and the like.

The third is one of the most important issues for the Kishida Cabinet, namely, the revival of the Japanese economy through the realization of a New Form of Capitalism. We will enhance our systems aiming to realize investments in people, cultivate start-ups, and materialize green transformation and digital transformation.

First, as for the minister who will be in charge of the overall coordination of a New Form of Capitalism and also in charge of start-ups, I will have Minister Yamagiwa, who has been responsible for compiling our action plan, continue to oversee these areas. In particular, investments in people are the very heart of our efforts to realize a New Form of Capitalism. This spring's annual wage bargaining negotiations resulted in wages rising by 2.07%, the second-highest rate of increase in the past twenty years. In addition, this year's summer bonuses rose for the first time in four years, and we just set the largest-ever increase in the minimum hourly wage. Continuing with this, we will dramatically enhance our investments in people, including through fostering work environments and job training opportunities that lead to further wage increases.

In addition, I have tasked Mr. KONO Taro with vigorously promoting digital transformation, an important area for investment within my New Form of Capitalism. I would like him to use his characteristic excellence in getting things done and surmounting all obstacles to further enliven the activities of the Digital Agency, which will soon mark the first anniversary of its launch, and accelerate in one swoop Japan's digital transformation, which has lagged behind other countries.

Green transformation is important right alongside digital transformation, and to the position of Minister for Green Transformation and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry I have appointed Mr. NISHIMURA Yasutoshi, who brings to this post not only his experience as Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization, among other positions, but also his considerable expertise in energy and economic and industrial policy. Green transformation is premised on us securing an inexpensive and stable supply of energy. I will have Minister Nishimura advance a comprehensive consideration of how to secure that supply, including how to respond to the tight electricity supply and demand expected this winter and the use of nuclear power.

Fourth is transitioning to a new phase in our measures to tackle COVID-19 and strengthening our responses to it. In the area of COVID-19 countermeasures, we are now in the middle of our seventh wave, and little by little we are seeing areas appear where the number of cases is starting to move into a decline. I extend my heartfelt thanks to you, the public, as well as to all those working in the medical and welfare fields, for your ongoing cooperation.

We must not miss the opportunity to push forward in transitioning to a new stage in which we move towards living with COVID-19 always there in the background. This will include the matter of how to classify COVID-19 under the Infectious Diseases Control Law. At the same time, it is necessary to take steps forward in addressing the new challenge of establishing the organization of the Infectious Diseases Crisis Management Agency (tentative name) in preparation for the next infectious disease crisis. I will continue to entrust Minister Yamagiwa to take charge of our COVID-19 countermeasures, and I have asked Mr. KATO Katsunobu, who has served as Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare previously, to again take up the post of Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. Through these appointments, we will take all possible measures to ensure that we uphold the capacity of our medical and health service systems.

Fifth is strengthening our policies related to children and our measures to counter the declining birthrate. In order to steadily advance our preparations to establish the Agency for Children and Families, which will be inaugurated next year, while also fundamentally strengthening our policies related to children and our measures to counter the declining birthrate, I have appointed Mr. OGURA Masanobu, who is currently serving as the Director of the LDP Youth Division, so as to enable us to mount responses from a youthful, fresh perspective.

For the cabinet to unite and press ahead with these priority issues, it is essential for us to have a stable administration in each specific field.

In particular, as for the posts of Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission and Minister of State for Disaster Management, which will be held concurrently by the same person, as we head into a season with many natural disasters, we must quickly prepare accountable systems. The Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission must also thoroughly verify the case of the killing of former Prime Minister Abe and rebuild security arrangements. For those reasons, I have decided to ask Mr. TANI Koichi to take the helm, bringing with him experience as, among other positions, State Minister for Reconstruction and Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. He has consistently worked to improve our natural disaster response capacity ever since he led the way on the ground in the Hyogo Prefectural Government during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

I have appointed Mr. TERADA Minoru to serve as Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications. He brings with him experience as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister and State Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, among his other posts to date. He will work to revamp our nation's telecommunications operations, achieve steady reductions in mobile phone charges, develop our 5G, optical fiber, and other digital infrastructure, and accelerate the widespread use of Tax Number System cards (commonly called “My Number” cards).

To the post of Minister of Justice, I have appointed Mr. HANASHI Yasuhiro, who has served twice as State Minister of Justice and also has an abundance of experience in judicial administration as Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Judicial Affairs.

I have tapped Ms. NAGAOKA Keiko to be Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Bringing experience as State Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and as Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to this post, she will promote policies on education, science, and technology.

Russia's aggression against Ukraine has resulted in soaring food prices, and food security is now a major issue. Against this backdrop, I decided to ask Mr. NOMURA Tetsuro to take on the post of Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He previously served as Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Director of the LDP's Agriculture and Forestry Division and is an expert in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries policies.

My selection for Minister of the Environment is Mr. NISHIMURA Akihiro, whose previous appointments include Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary and State Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. He has also promoted the LDP's Headquarters for the Promotion of Realizing Carbon Neutrality by 2050 as the office's Chief Secretary. He will advance the creation of a society that aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake remains one of the priority issues for the Kishida administration. For Minister for Reconstruction, I have chosen Mr. AKIBA Kenya, who is himself from Miyagi Prefecture and who has devoted himself to reconstruction. He has previously held the posts of State Minister for Reconstruction and Chair of the House of Representatives Special Committee on Reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

For Minister of State for Regional Revitalization and also for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, I have tapped Mr. OKADA Naoki, whose career includes positions as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary and State Minister of Finance. He will make all-out efforts not only to bring about a robust Okinawan economy and promote Northern Territories affairs, but also to revitalize our regions, including by sending out to the world the message of Japan's innovation capacity and working to realize a vision for a Digital Garden City Nation.

I have now explained my thinking regarding the various members of my cabinet. Alongside that, I would like to speak about issues related to what is called the former Unification Church.

To begin, I wish to state that, to the best of my knowledge, I personally have no links whatsoever with that group. Having said that, individual politicians engage in exchanges with a wide variety of people as one part of their political activities, in order to garner support as widely as possible among the citizens. Freedom of religion is also guaranteed to all under the Constitution. However, we must be sufficiently careful to ensure there is no cause for public misgivings with regard to links to groups about which problems for society have been pointed out.

In order to dispel any doubts held by the public, in reshuffling my cabinet, I declared to the ministerial candidates that each of them must, as part of their responsibility as politicians, examine any connections to this group and, in keeping with the results, strictly review the situation. I appointed only those who agreed to this.

Beyond that, I gave instructions on two points.

The first was that, while freedom of religion under the Constitution must be respected, it is a matter of course that, as members of society, religious groups must also observe relevant laws and ordinances; if, hypothetically speaking, any actions were to deviate from what is prescribed in laws and ordinances, then the matter would need to be dealt with strictly and fairly.

The second instruction I gave was that the Minister of Justice and other ministers concerned must do their utmost while working in cooperation with groups providing consultations on fraudulent business practices and other kinds of wrongful conduct and also groups working to help victims. The Kishida administration will thoroughly implement these instructions I gave and we will conduct this administration in a manner that garners trust from the citizens.

I will not waver from my basic stance of realizing politics that earns the public’s trust and sympathy by listening earnestly to the voices of the citizens, an approach that I have emphasized ever since I first assumed office as prime minister last year. I will transform the confidence the public has invested in me in two national elections into the strength to advance policies and, with the government and ruling parties joining forces, I will dedicate myself completely to carrying out our policies and overcoming these challenges. I ask the public for its understanding and cooperation.

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