Japan's PM Kishida delivers first policy speech

Japan's new Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has stressed his determination to promote a "new form of capitalism" in which more economic expansion will be achieved by distributing the fruits of growth.

Kishida delivered his first policy speech to both houses of the Diet on Friday, four days after taking office.

Kishida said he will take advantage of the recent decline in the number of new coronavirus infections to work to ensure that the public enjoy a sense of security.

He said he aims to authorize the use of oral COVID-19 medicine by year-end, and to seek the use of digital vaccine certificates.

On the economy, Kishida said neoliberal policies have been criticized for widening the division between haves and have-nots. He said further expansion can be achieved by distributing the fruits of growth.

He stressed that he will bring a new style of capitalism to the fore, one that is based on a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution, along with new solutions for the post-pandemic age.

The prime minister said he will safeguard universal values such as freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, and do his best to promote a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific."

He said his government will revise the national security strategy and other policies, strengthening the country's maritime security and missile defense capabilities. He said he will also tackle economic security.

Kishida said he will aim for a world without nuclear arms as a prime minister hailing from Hiroshima -- the site of an atomic bomb attack during World War Two.

Kishida said he will carry forward "the torch of nuclear disarmament -- a challenge that the world's great leaders have repeatedly tried to tackle" and do all he can do to eliminate nuclear arms.

He said he intends to lead the international community in dealing with global issues, including nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and climate change.

Kishida expressed a readiness to engage with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without pre-set conditions with the aim of securing the return of Japanese nationals abducted by the North.

Kishida said building a stable bilateral relationship with China is important for both countries and the world.

He said he will say what needs to be said and press Beijing to act responsibly, but will also continue dialogue and cooperate on common issues.

Kishida said there will be no peace treaty with Russia without a resolution of the issue of four Russian-controlled islands claimed by Japan. He said he will aim to develop ties between the two countries by establishing a relationship of mutual trust with President Vladimir Putin.

The prime minister described South Korea as an important neighbor. He said he will strongly urge the country to act in such a way as to encourage the restoration of healthy bilateral ties.