TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio’s new cabinet started work in earnest on Friday, launching discussions to deal with higher prices, the seventh wave of novel coronavirus infections and a pile of other issues.
State minister and parliamentary vice minister appointments are set to be decided at an extraordinary cabinet meeting in the afternoon.
On Friday morning, a meeting of four ministers under the National Security Council, including Kishida and newly appointed Defense Minister HAMADA Yasukazu, was held at the prime minister’s office.
The meeting was about the security environment in East Asia and the four apparently discussed China’s recent military drills near Taiwan.
Kishida then held a hearing on price trends, also at the prime minister’s office. Together with industry minister NISHIMURA Yasutoshi and farm minister NOMURA Tetsuro, both newly given the posts, Kishida listened to opinions about the current food price situation from retailers and manufacturers.
After hearing the opinions, Kishida said his government “will deploy across the country effective measures suitable for each local area’s condition.”
Kishida also met with Tokyo Governor KOIKE Yuriko to exchange their views on COVID-19 responses and rising prices.
The new cabinet, launched on Wednesday, laid out its basic policy of “breaking through difficulties and pushing through policy measures.”
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the cabinet, at first, plans to work to reduce strains on medical institutions flooded with possible coronavirus patients with symptoms such as fever and to offer a stable supply of COVID-19 test kits.
It also plans to discuss whether the country should continue to count all COVID-19 cases.
On Japan’s defense spending, the cabinet, starting with drawing up a fiscal 2023 defense budget request later this month, will work in earnest to decide what kinds of defense equipment would be needed, by how much the defense budget should be raised and how to secure necessary financial resources.
One headache for the Kishida administration is the issue of links between politicians and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, a controversial religious group better known as the Unification Church.
Also, the new cabinet is expected to be pressured to give explanations about the state funeral for former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo, slated for Sept. 27, as there is opposition among the public about the holding of the event.