Japan PM Kishida vows to play leading role in diplomacy in 2023


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged in his New Year’s address Sunday that Japan will play a leading role in diplomacy in 2023 as the host of the Group of Seven summit while serving as a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Kishida described 2022 as a “tumultuous year,” which saw history-making events, citing the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan is “facing the severest security situation” in the post-World War II era, Kishida said, adding the Asian country will demonstrate its “strong willingness to reject attempts to change the status quo by force” and grapple with “nuclear threats.”

His remarks came amid mounting fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin might use a tactical nuclear device for a limited strike against Ukraine.

Kishida apparently hopes to send a message on realizing a world free of nuclear arms at the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, devastated by a 1945 U.S. atomic bombing. The premier is a lawmaker representing a constituency in the western Japan city.

Tokyo, meanwhile, began its role in the U.N. Security Council for a two-year term on Jan. 1, as the committee has appeared dysfunctional, particularly after Russia, one of the five veto-wielding permanent members, launched its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Kishida also vowed to “decisively” perform his mission to protect the nation after Japan revised its three key defense documents, including the National Security Strategy, in December.

Based on the update, Japan has acquired capabilities to strike enemy bases to deter attacks from outside forces, called “counterstrike capabilities,” in a major shift in its defense policy under the war-renouncing Constitution.

On the domestic front, Kishida expressed an eagerness to take necessary measures to prop up Japan’s economy, hit by global energy and food price hikes and a sharp drop in the birthrate at home.

In his speech, Kishida promised to provide financial and human resources to industries such as green, digital, startup and innovation as part of efforts to achieve his “new capitalism” policy that focuses on economic growth and income redistribution.

Regarding social security, Kishida said policies related to children are indispensable to maintaining society.



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