TOKYO: Former Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide criticized his successor, KISHIDA Fumio, again, this time over his management of the government.
“I think it’s important to surely carry out his promises one by one,” Suga said in a radio program on Wednesday, citing the economic policies Kishida pledged to implement during campaigning for a national election.
Suga also criticized the government’s intention to raise taxes to finance a planned boost to defense spending as involving “too little discussion.”
Through the remarks, which came shortly after he slammed the prime minister’s political position as being dependent on party factions, Suga increased his anti-Kishida posture further publicly.
In the program aired by Radio Nippon Co., when asked to comment on Kishida’s management of the government, Suga at first said he wanted to refrain from saying something in his current position.
The former prime minister eventually gave his thoughts, however, saying that there have been two national elections since Kishida took office in October 2021 and that the prime minister should make it a top priority to work on realizing his election promises, such as the implementation of measures to cope with price increases pledged during campaigning for last year’s House of Councillors election.
Suga said the government’s tax hike plan for securing financial resources for higher defense expenditures “came all of a sudden.” He said there was too little discussion about, for example, presenting the amount of funds the government can secure through administrative reforms and then asking the public to cover a shortfall through tax hikes.
On the idea of using the consumption tax to fund children-related measures, which was floated by a senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Suga said, “It’s not a possibility to talk about the consumption tax at a time when prices are surging and specifics of the measures are still unknown.”
On Jan. 10, during his visit to Vietnam, Suga said, “Past prime ministers have served in the position after leaving their factions.” He criticized Kishida for breaking with the tradition and remaining leader of his faction.
As the former prime minister attacked Kishida’s very management of the government this time, the moves of Suga, a nonmainstream lawmaker of the LDP, are expected to draw stronger attention from other party members, observers said.
A veteran lawmaker close to Suga said the former prime minister’s remarks in the radio program “have great meaning in terms of raising a question about the (Kishida) administration.”
“The tax hike talk came at a bad timing,” an LDP official said, adding that Suga issued the maximum possible warning to the prime minister that “making light of the matter may get himself into a mess.”
On the other hand, a middle-ranking lawmaker of a mainstream LDP faction previously led by the late former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo called the latest remarks by Suga into question, saying, “Amid mounting challenges facing the administration, I wonder if now is the time to shoot (the prime minister) from behind.”