Fumio Kishida beats Taro Kono and becomes Japan’s next prime minister

Here is today’s Foreign policy meager: Fumio Kishida wins races to hold Japan’s next Prime Minister, US and EU officials Trade and Technology Talks, and the Russian President Wladimir Putin receives Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Sochi, Russia.


Kishida becomes Japan’s next prime minister

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has endorsed Fumio Kishida as its new leader, effectively making him prime minister of the world’s third largest economy.

Kishida, a former Japanese foreign minister, won a highly competitive election and defeated Taro Kono in a runoff election in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon after the two were practically tied in the first round. His inauguration as prime minister is now secured, as the LDP holds a comfortable majority in the Japanese House of Representatives.

The vote comes just over a year after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga rose to the top of the party after Shinzo Abe stepped down. Suga announced his resignation earlier this month, as his cabinet’s falling approval rating could damage the party in the upcoming elections.

Suga’s experience is a cautionary story for Kishida: After a strong start, perceptions of Suga’s government steadily deteriorated, fueled by public anger over hosting the Tokyo Olympics and a surge in coronavirus cases.

Power of the party. Kishida’s rise has come at the expense of Kono, who was the top favorite in opinion polls. Although Kono won the party’s base in today’s competition, Kishida ultimately benefited from the LDP party’s rules that favor elected members in the event of a runoff.

Kishidas challenges. Although Kishida is likely to pursue economic policies similar to those of his predecessors, he is considered more moderate on China than some in his party and says he would consider meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. However, his first challenges will be domestically, dealing with the country’s coronavirus epidemic and leading the LDP to new parliamentary elections, which are expected to take place in November.

Konos comeback? While today’s vote marks the tentative end of Kono’s leadership candidacy, Suga’s experience and the short shelf life of Japan’s prime ministers in general – Kishida will be the 10th in the last 20 years – is unlikely to fade into the background.

Speak with Foreign policy Kristi Govella, a Japan expert with the United States’ German Marshall Fund, said ahead of the vote that a loss to the popular minister could be a hidden blessing given the scale of the task Kishida faces. “ItIt is possible that in a year and under more favorable conditions Kono could be at the forefront of another LDP leadership race. “


What we are following today

Transatlantic Technology Talks. The first meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), attended by senior officials from both sides, will take place in Pittsburgh today. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, Trade Minister Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai will join the US side, while European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis represent the European Union.

Today’s meeting will focus on the global semiconductor shortage, an issue that was also on the agenda of last week’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Summit. While representatives of the European Union are making their way to Pittsburgh, the US climate commissioner John Kerry is traveling in the other direction for talks in Switzerland, Italy and France.

Putin and Erdogan meet in Sochi. Russian President Vladimir Putin today receives Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia, for the first personal meeting of the two heads of state and government since the coronavirus pandemic began. The two are expected to discuss several areas of interest to the two governments, including Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and the Caucasus, according to a press release from the Kremlin.

US officials will be on the lookout for Erdogan’s defiant comments on Sunday for further announcements of Turkish plans to purchase more Russian S-400 missile systems. The US State Department has threatened Turkish officials with further sanctions if a sale occurs.

Germany’s next front runner. The rise of the SPD leader Olaf Scholz to the German Federal Chancellery came one step closer on Tuesday after a high-ranking member of the rival Christian Democratic coalition congratulated the SPD leader, which party leader Armin Laschet still has to do, he hopes for a coalition agreement.

Markus Söder, the chairman of the Bavarian sister party of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), sent the SPD leader his good wishes that it was “crystal clear” that Scholz had the best chance of becoming chancellor.

Scholz could be a surprising number two in a future coalition government, as reports suggest that Greens co-leader Robert Habeck would become vice chancellor in place of the Greens Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock in a so-called traffic light system.


Length characterss military call. France softened the blow of its recent loss of an Australian submarine contract by agreeing to a $ 3.5 billion warship deal with Greece on Tuesday. In his first statements since the announcement of the so-called AUKUS Pact by the governments of the USA, Great Britain and Australia, French President Emmanuel Macron called for further European integration in defense policy: “Europeans must stop being naive. When we are under pressure from forces that sometimes harden [their stance], we have to react and show that we have the strength and the ability to defend ourselves, ”he said.

Guineas transition. Guinea’s junta announced plans for a new transitional government on Tuesday and named its leader, Mamady Doumbouya, president pending new elections. Under the terms of a transitional charter, none of the members of the transitional government – which will include an 81-member transitional council – will then be allowed to run for office. Earlier this month, the Economic Community of West African States asked the junta to hold new elections within six months.

Constitution of Belarus. Belarus will hold a referendum on a new constitution in February, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko announced on Tuesday when he promised to prevent the country’s opposition from seizing power so that they do not “destroy the country”. Last November, Lukashenko said he would resign as soon as a new constitution is in place, but he appears to have changed his stance in recent months. The new constitution provides for a new governing body – the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly – but Lukashenko did not specify what kind of power it would wield.


A Danish art museum was lost significantly (or helped fund a brand new work of art, depending on your point of view) after the museum gave an artist $ 84,000 in cash to recreate two of his works, the inspiration for a new piece became: two blank canvases with the title “Take The Money and Run”.

The artist Jens Haaning was commissioned by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark, to reproduce “An Average Danish Annual Income” and “An Average Austrian Annual Income”, two pieces showing the total amounts in framed US dollars. The museum authorities assume that Haaning’s interpretation went beyond the usual artistic freedom and gave him until January to return the money.

In a press release, Haaning defended his minimalist creation: “The works of art are essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is a statement that says that we also have a responsibility to question the structures to which we belong. And if these structures are completely unreasonable, we have to break with them. “

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