TOKYO — One of the biggest questions being asked about Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, both by outside observers and in the halls of government in the capital’s Kasumigaseki district, is simply: “What does he want to do?”
This may come as a surprise to Kishida himself, who might protest that he has repeatedly explained his goals in policy speeches, question-and-answer sessions, and news conferences. These do not appear to have resonated much with listeners, however.
In the roughly year and a half since he took office in October 2021, the prime minister has already left a legacy in areas where past administrations could not — revising key security documents to pursue counterattack capabilities and driving a change in Japan’s approach to nuclear energy.
The fiscal 2023 budget has made it through the lower house and is set to be passed this month. Local elections, along with by-elections for some lower house seats, are scheduled for April. And in May, Japan will host Group of Seven leaders for a summit in Hiroshima, Kishida’s home turf.
The current parliamentary session ends June 21. Politicians in both the ruling coalition and the opposition are already paying close attention to the question of when the prime minister will dissolve parliament for a snap election.
When the terms of top officials in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party end in September, will Kishida settle for reshuffling his cabinet, or will he also hold a general election at that point?