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Kishida 'regrets' money scandal, but offers no clear prevention


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers his policy speech to the Lower House on Jan. 30. (Takeshi Iwashita)

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida apologized for the financial scandal rocking his ruling Liberal Democratic Party but stopped short of offering concrete measures to prevent recurrences.

In his opening policy speech in the Lower House on Jan. 30, Kishida touched upon the huge amounts of money accumulated through fund-raising parties by LDP factions.

“As president of the LDP, I deeply regret having brought about a situation in which the public looks on lawmakers with a suspicious eye and I offer my sincere apologies,” he said. 

Saying that stable politics are not possible without the public's trust, Kishida repeated the proposals compiled by an LDP political reform task force. He also said the party will make a clear break from having factions play a key role in collecting political funds and making appointments to government and party posts.

Kishida began his speech by offering condolences to all those suffering from the devastating Noto Peninsula earthquake.

He said his administration had doubled the reserve fund in fiscal 2024 to 1 trillion yen ($6.8 billion) and said the government would do everything necessary to reconstruct the area. He said the money would go toward repairing land and maritime transport networks that had been interrupted by the New Year's Day earthquake and tsunami.

“I will take responsibility to handle the restoration of areas hit by the natural disaster, including the Noto region, and the return of quake victims to their hometowns,” Kishida said.

Regarding economic policy, the prime minister said that ensuring wage increases occurred regularly would be a pressing task for his administration. He specifically mentioned annual income limits that prevent part-time workers from seeking higher wages and increasing truck transport fees as areas the government would work on.

Kishida said the government would also work with local authorities to ensure the success of the Osaka Kansai Expo, which is scheduled for next year. He said he would seek out the advice of experts to monitor the ballooning construction costs of the expo.

He also said he wanted to accelerate multi-partisan discussions to hammer out a specific proposal for amending the Constitution by September when his term as LDP president ends.

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