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EDITORIAL | Prime Minister Kishida Needs to Talk More About National Security

In his policy speech, Prime Minister Kishida focused on restoring public trust, but left understated the severe security environment Japan faces today.



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gives a policy speech at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on January 30. (© Sankei by Ataru Haruna)

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida just delivered a policy speech in the Diet on January 30. He announced his intention to implement reforms, including amending the Political Funds Control Law. It responded to the issue of factions within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) failing to report income from fundraising parties.

The Prime Minister was correct in what he said: "There can be no policy promotion without political stability. There can be no political stability without public trust." 

Kishida also promised to promote transparency and compliance regarding political funds. Restoring trust is urgently needed. 

Granted that is the case. However, the Prime Minister must avoid allowing a preoccupation with the issue of "politics and money" to make his political stance too inward-looking. In other words, he cannot neglect foreign policy, national security, and other urgent matters. Although Japan will not be the G7 chair in 2024, it still has a major role to play in the international community. 

China remains bent on annexing Taiwan and pursuing its hegemonic agenda. Meanwhile, Russia is intensifying its invasion of Ukraine, and North Korea in forging closer ties of cooperation with Moscow. At the same time, "aid fatigue" is spreading among Western nations supporting Ukraine. 

The Prime Minister declared that Japan must help "lead the international community towards global stability and prosperity." Such rhetoric by itself is inadequate. After all, in the speech he delivered to the Diet a year earlier in January 2023, Kishida emphasized, "We must be determined to create an international order suitable for a new era."

He should therefore have spelled out concrete policies to achieve that goal in this year's speech. 

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa gives the minister's annual speech on diplomacy at the plenary session of the House of Representatives on January 30.h (© Sankei by Ataru Haruna)

Need to Demonstrate Problem Awareness

In her speech on diplomacy, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa pointed to the importance of "peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait." We wish that the Prime Minister had displayed this kind of problem awareness in his own remarks. 

Kishida should more clearly demonstrate his awareness of the severe security environment Japan faces today. Furthermore, in future Diet debates, he should talk about such things as the need to strengthen deterrence and response capabilities. He should also elaborate on the significance of diplomacy backed by defense capabilities. 

The Prime Minister also called for more robust economic security. But that requires an effective "security clearance" system for individuals with access to sensitive information. Such legislation must be passed during this session of the Diet. 

Constitutional Revision and Imperial Succession

Kishida's vow regarding the revision of Japan's constitution was also too vague. He vowed to further flesh out the proposed revisions and accelerate cross-party discussions. However, the country needs to see him personally lead the debate to ensure the proposed amendments to the constitution are completed during this session of the Diet.

We have consistently encouraged active discussions regarding plans for stable imperial succession. Now is the time for the Prime Minister to demonstrate leadership in protecting the imperial lineage inherited through the male line.

However, Kishida merely alluded to constitutional revision and imperial succession when he said that there are "other issues that cannot be postponed."

"Other" seemed to us a dismissive way of referring to these important matters. 


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun


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