Japanese PM Kishida faces questions in Diet about policy speech

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio is facing questions from lawmakers in the Upper House of the Diet on Thursday about the policy speech he gave earlier this week.

In the Lower House on Wednesday, the head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, Izumi Kenta, criticized Kishida's plan to raise taxes to fund a bigger defense budget.

Izumi said Kishida should call a general election to seek a public mandate for the issue.

Kishida said the matter is for him to decide as Prime Minister, and that he will make an appropriate judgment.

Kishida will also face questioning again in the Lower House on Thursday afternoon.

Lawmakers from the ruling bloc are expected to urge Kishida to explain the shift in national security policy, including the decision to acquire counterstrike capabilities, and the need for a defense budget increase.

They will also ask Kishida how he plans to implement his policy of a different dimension to raise the country's birthrate, and how he will help small and mid-sized businesses affected by high prices to raise wages.

The opposition plans to reject a tax increase for more defense spending, and grill the government for skipping Diet debate in making the decision.

The opposition will seek specific measures for higher wages, and will also question the government's plan to make maximum use of nuclear power.