On 29 September, Fumio Kishida, former Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and Chair of the Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council, won the LDP presidential election, setting him up to become Japan’s 100th prime minister on 4 October.
After long resisting calls for stronger measures to control the increasing number of new Covid-19 infections, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga instructed the government this week to prepare for a new state of emergency, which was officially announced on 7 January .
Japan’s government lifted the nationwide state of emergency on 25 May but some restrictions remain. The government is now working to lift border restrictions in phases with business travellers allowed in first, and resumption of tourism later in the year. Following the record-breaking supplementary budget on 30 April, the government is now preparing a second, even larger package to tackle the crisis and support economic recovery. The crisis has proved a challenge to Japanese leaders, with Abe’s ratings falling below 30% despite the low number of cases.
The world is grappling with the rapid spread of COVID-19 and Japan is no exception. The World Health Organization has stated that Europe is now the world’s COVID-19 pandemic epicenter. But Japan is in a delicate position as the country is gearing up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the timing of which is becoming increasingly uncertain.
The extraordinary Diet session was ended on Wednesday, 26 June, as scheduled. Now Prime Minister Abe focuses on the success of the G20 summit that is held today and tomorrow. It is crucial for him and his administration to appeal his diplomatic skills for the upcoming House of Councillors election scheduled on 21 July, aiming to win more than half of the 124 seats to be contested.
The 198th ordinary Diet session was convened today. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a policy speech at the opening of the session, seeking understanding for his plan to raise the consumption tax from 8 percent to 10 percent in October. He also expressed his intention of amending the Constitution, settling the territorial dispute with Russia and signing a peace treaty, and strengthening the nation's cyber and space defense programs.
The extraordinary Diet session was ended yesterday as scheduled although the extension of the session was once considered as the opposition parties fiercely protected to deliberate a bill to accept more foreign workers into Japan as well as to revise the Water Supply Act to allow private companies to run municipal water services. The ordinary Diet session is said to be convened on the week of 28 January. Prime Minister Abe's comments at the close of the session are available from NHK World sit
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched his new cabinet on 2 October. He retained key veteran ministers to keep the basic framework of his administration intact while appointing 12 first-timers, the highest figure for any of the cabinets he formed. With his refreshed cabinet, Abe aims to tackle challenges facing Japan and complete Abenomics. For the complete list of the cabinet, please refer to the Japan Times.
Japan and the European Union signed the economic partnership agreement (EPA) in Tokyo on Tuesday, 17 July. The EPA, which will remove tariffs on most of each other's goods in phases, is expected to be put into effect by the end of March, 2019. Comments by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are available from the Japan News article.