10/14/2022, 16.54
JAPAN
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Kishida, his son and Japan’s political dynasties

by Guido Alberto Casanova

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida named his 31-year-old son, Shotaro, as his new executive secretary, a key post on his staff. Although this is not unusual in Japanese politics, it has revived criticism of nepotism. Meanwhile, the prime minister’s popularity is at an all-time low.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Shotaro Kishida is a young man of 31, the eldest of three siblings. He studied law at Keio University, one of Tokyo's oldest and foremost universities.

After his studies, he was hired by one of the most important firms in the country, Mutsui & Co, one of those companies that made Japan’s post-war economic history.

Shotaro was certainly lucky compared to many of his peers but, in addition to that, he also has another card up his sleeve; his father happens to be Fumio Kishida, Japan’s current prime minister, who last week, named him as his new executive secretary.

Already in 2020 Shotaro was hired directly by his father's office. And his new promotion has not gone down well in the country.

The position of executive secretary is particularly important since it will allow him to follow his father practically everywhere, involving him in meetings with foreign leaders and political negotiations behind closed doors.

For this reason, Japanese media are speculating on whether Fumio Kishida is trying to groom his firstborn as his heir.

Nepotism is never far in Japanese politics, especially within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Most of Japan's prominent politicians belong to political dynasties.

Shotaro Kishida’s appointment did not catch LDP leaders completely unprepared, Kyodo News reports. A former minister, Itsunori Onodera, who belongs to Kishida’s faction, said he expected Shotaro to succeed his father who took office as prime minister only a year ago..

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference that Shotaro Kishida’s appointment was decided based on his “personality and insight”, guided by “the idea of putting the right person in the right place.”

Not everybody is convinced. In parliament, opposition lawmakers went after the prime minister for the appointment.

The head of the Democratic Party for the People blasted the prime minister for showing favouritism towards a family member, while the Constitutional Democratic Party described the appointment as too quick and disturbing.

Even among the other parties of the ruling coalition, the promotion came in for criticism, with Kishida taken to task for not listening to public opinion.

In fact, the appointment comes at a time when the government is sailing in rough waters, with an approval rating plunging from 60 per cent in July to about 30 per cent at present.

The LDP's relationship with the Unification Church and former Prime Minister Abe's highly contentious state funeral weigh heavily on the matter.

Now Shotaro Kishida's appointment exposes the government to further criticism, increasing its unpopularity among voters.

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