Japanese lawmakers discuss new PM's policies

Japanese lawmakers debated on Monday policies laid out by new Prime Minister Kishida Fumio in his speech last week.

The debate comes as Kishida plans to dissolve the Lower House of the Diet on Thursday for a general election.

A senior official of Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party asked about the government's anti-coronavirus measures.

LDP Secretary-General Amari Akira said, "The government has been saying the effect of lockdowns is limited, considering situations in other countries. I'd like to know Prime Minister Kishida's view on possible legal changes to enable the government to impose lockdowns."

Kishida said, "I don't think strict lockdowns involving large amounts of fines, which some countries have imposed, are suitable for Japan. We will drastically strengthen crisis management, by bolstering the government's ability to function as a control tower and curb the movement of people."

The leader of the largest opposition party criticized the coalition government for its handling of a recent wave of infections.

Constitutional Democratic Party Leader Edano Yukio said, "In early September, the medical system was strained and many people could not be admitted to hospitals. Some people even died at home and elsewhere without being able to receive sufficient treatment. I must say it was a failure of the LDP-led government.

Prime Minister Kishida said, "I have instructed relevant ministers to swiftly present to the public an overall picture of anti-coronavirus measures, including how to secure hospital beds and medical workers, and what should be done for people isolating at home. The three ministers will analyze why hospital beds allocated for COVID patients were not fully utilized when cases surged this summer, and show the framework of antivirus measures within days."

Edano also asked about Kishida's proposal to create a new form of capitalism by achieving a virtuous cycle between growth and distribution.

He said, "How are you going to succeed or revise former Prime Minister Abe's economic policies? If you want to distribute the fruits of growth, you can never achieve a virtuous cycle. A virtuous cycle should start with appropriate distribution."

Kishida said, "My government's basic stance is growth AND distribution, rather than growth OR distribution. Abenomics helped get Japan out of economic hardships during the administration of the former Democratic Party of Japan. Abenomics played a significant role in achieving economic growth and strengthening Japan's economy. No distribution without growth. That's what we learned from the failure of the Democratic Party-led government."
Lawmakers are to continue debate over Kishida's policy speech on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The prime minister plans to call a snap election for October 31.