10/04/2021, 11.13
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Tokyo: Kishida is the new premier

He will have to manage the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and revive the economy. Former foreign minister expected to continue cooperation with U.S. to counter China's rise in the Indo-Pacific.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Parliament today elected Fumio Kishida as its new prime minister. The vote was little more than a formality given that the Liberal Democratic Party, which chose Kishida as its leader last week, has a majority in both branches of the legislature. The 64-year-old former foreign minister garnered 311 votes out of 458 in the lower house, and 141 out of 241 in the upper house.

"This is the real starting point. I will go forth with a strong sense of determination, with a strong resolution," Kishida said at a press conference."

The government formed by the new premier will have to manage the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and revive the economy. With about 60 percent of Japan's population fully vaccinated and Covid-19 cases on the decline, Kishida's first challenge will be to prevent another surge in infections, and phase out anti-Covid restrictions to allow even foreign travelers to return. 

Kishida, who comes from a family of politicians in Hiroshima, promised an economic package of "trillions of yen" within the year and criticized "Abenomics," the previous economic policy named after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Unlike his predecessor Yoshihide Suga, who had retained many ministers from the Abe administration, Kishida chose 13 new faces, including Daishiro Yamagiwa, minister for economic policy, and Takayuki Kobayashi, who will take on a new role for the country's financial security. The inauguration ceremony will be held at the Imperial Palace and will be followed by a press conference in the evening.

Suga resigned after just over a year due to criticism in his handling of the pandemic. Kishida is expected to continue cooperation with the United States to counter China's rise in the Indo-Pacific.

It is unclear whether there will be any change of direction in the social sphere under the new government. In the past, Kishida had asked for more time to discuss the possibility of married couples taking on different surnames and said he was "undecided" about the possibility of legalizing same-sex marriages.

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