Japan PM Kishida faces questions in Diet, including on higher defense spending

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has faced questions over his policy speech in the Diet, including an increase in defense spending.

Debates were held in the Lower House plenary session on Wednesday.

Izumi Kenta, the president of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party asked about a bigger defense spending. Izumi said the amount of defense budget and tax hikes for funding it are predetermined. He said it is outrageous to decide on increased defense spending without Diet debates. He also said Kishida must dissolve the Lower House and hold a general election to seek the public's mandate for his decision on tax hikes.

Kishida said stable and sustainable financial resources are necessary to drastically enhance the country's defense capabilities and maintain them. He said he will exercise his authority as prime minister to appropriately determine how he seeks the public's mandate on what policies.

Izumi mentioned measures to boost the country's childbirths. Izumi said Kishida regards extra financial support for children a top priority of the government. But Izumi said it is aimed at covering up tax hikes for defense spending. He described doubling the spending on children as too late and the bare minimum. He asked Kishida where he intends to secure the extra money for children.

Kishida said he wants to get everybody on board, regardless of age or gender, to implement measures to reverse the nation's declining birth rate. He said a range of issues will have to be addressed, such as social security, the role of the central and local governments, and support for higher education, to ensure reliable support for children across society as a whole.

Kishida added that he has no intention to raise the consumption tax to cover child support for the time being.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Motegi Toshimitsu asked about Kishida's possible visit to Ukraine, saying it would be desirable for him to hold a summit meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and inspect the situation there.

Kishida said he has been in close communication with Zelenskyy. He also said nothing has been decided about his visit but he will consider it, taking into account various factors and situations.