Former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, one of the top contenders in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership race, said Wednesday that mitigating income gaps that are widening amid the COVID-19 pandemic would be one of his top priorities if he becomes party president and therefore prime minister.

Since the early 2000s, Japan has embraced the deregulation and market-oriented policies associated with the neoliberal philosophy, a shift that was continued under the Abenomics agenda of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the 2010s. That approach boosted Japan’s economy but widened gaps, and Kishida’s call for a move away from neoliberalism seeks to address this and ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth.

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