HANOI – Fumio Kishida, the Liberal Democratic Party’s policy chief, said he will make his decision on whether to run for party president, and thus prime minister, after the Diet closes for the summer.
“The time is now for the government and the ruling coalition to unite to regain the public’s trust and concentrate on Diet debates,” the chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council told reporters in Hanoi on Saturday.
“I’ll make the appropriate decision while watching the political situation at the time,” he said. Kishida is considered a contender to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the leadership election this fall.
The Diet is scheduled to close on June 20.
The government and the LDP-led ruling coalition have been under fire over several scandals ranging from alleged favoritism and document-tampering involving two private school entities linked to the prime minister’s wife or his friends, to sexual harassment by the Finance Ministry’s top bureaucrat, who retired prematurely with a penalty over the allegations.
Former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba and Wataru Takeshita, chairman of the LDP’s decision-making General Council, who both have policies similar to Kishida’s, are reportedly ready to ally themselves with him.
Kishida pointed out that policies are a major factor in the leadership race.
“We may not be able to reach a consensus on everything, but it’s important to consider what we can agree on and to have realistic discussions,” he said.
Kishida emphasized that careful debates are needed on proposals to revise the Constitution, saying it is important to proceed with the matter while gaining the public’s understanding.
On Saturday, Kishida visited Vietnam Japan University, which was set up in Hanoi as a joint project. The university opened in September 2016.