Former Japanese foreign minister highlights diplomatic skills in poll race
February 26, 2021

Former Japanese foreign minister highlights diplomatic skills in race for PM post

TOKYO (JAPAN) – Former Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida, who is running for the post of prime minister as the successor of Shinzo Abe, said on Wednesday that frank discussions are needed with the US over Japan’s share of its defence burden.

The 63-year-old has been assumed to be the successor of Abe to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). But he ranks poorly in opinion polls. However, he has sought to prop up his image by stressing his diplomatic experience as foreign minister from 2012-2017.

A native of Hiroshima, Kishida trails Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga when it comes to support within the party. Former defence secretary Shigeru Ishiba is also contesting.

On Friday, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister said he was stepping down because of ill health, sparking a race for the post of PM within the party.

Japan’s main ally, the US, has been pressuring Tokyo to take on a greater share of the burden of its defence and spend more to host US soldiers.

“We should not lose trust over who pays for what,” he said.

“We may have different points of view but we must strive to reach an appropriate conclusion through frank discussions and maintain our relationship.”

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