Japan’s Party Bosses Pick Fumio Kishida Over Taro Kono. Consensus Over Reform.
Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party selected former foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, a 64-year-old politician known for avoiding controversy and building party consensus. But, he’s less popular with the public than his leading opponent, Taro Kono, a Georgetown graduate and a good communicator, including in English, but he was known as a maverick who advocated reform.
The vote was close and required a second vote, which gave the party bosses more clout (LDP vote Sept. 29, full Diet vote Oct. 4). Conservatives united behind Kishida. The party leaders, although concerned about winning parliamentary elections scheduled October 31, felt simply having a new leader after the unpopular Yoshihide Suga and the improved conditions related to COVID-19 would be sufficient to hold their majority.
In terms of foreign policy, no change is expected. Kishida is an establishment candidate with a conservative reputation. The Biden administration has prioritized Asia and the China threat. Japan’s leadership has been fully supportive, and with the continued conservative orientation of the new prime minister and government, it should not change.