Japan's new LDP leader Kishida explains policies

The newly elected leader of Japan's main ruling party says he is ready to unify a country shaken by the coronavirus pandemic. Kishida Fumio took the helm of the Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday. It virtually ensures he will become Prime Minister.

Kishida says he will hammer out an economic package worth several hundred billion dollars by the end of the year. It's his effort to kick-start an economy hit hard by the crisis. He says his policies will ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth. The former foreign minister also has a plan for raising Japan's image abroad.

Kishida says, "I'm making three commitments for diplomacy and security. I am determined to protect democracy and other universal values, to protect Japan's peace and stability, to protect our interests through raising Japan's presence in the international community by contributing to solving environmental and other global challenges. I will carry out foreign and defense policies based on these commitments and achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific."

Kishida beat Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro, by a solid margin in a runoff, winning 257 votes against Kono's 170. That's after the first round ended with just a single vote between them. Two other party veterans, former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takaichi Sanae and LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Noda Seiko also ran.

Kishida campaigned on rebuilding the country's medical system and economy, both hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. He is vowing to set up temporary COVID-19 hospitals throughout the country so no one has to wait for treatment. He also plans to inject some 90 billion dollars into the science and technology sector.