Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Takashi Arimoto

【#1079】Kishida May Be Disqualified as National Leader

Takashi Arimoto / 2023.10.19 (Thu)

October 16, 2023

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who fails to call terrorism “terrorism” may be disqualified as a national leader. There was a X (formerly Twitter) post by Kishida that led me to think so. Kishida wrote that he “strongly condemn” an assault on Israel by the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas, but avoided referring to the assault as “terrorism.” Citing a large number of casualties in the Gaza Strip by Israeli counterattack, he said, “We are deeply concerned and urge all relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint.” Kishida thus called on Israel, as well as Hamas, to exercise restraint. However, I doubt if the Israel-Hamas war represents a situation in which Japan should take a balanced approach.

The assault occurred in the early morning of October 7 (around noon in Japan). In contrast to U.S. and British leaders’ reaction to the event within the day, the Japanese leader issued his first comment in the evening of October 8 Japan time, more than a full day after the assault. As for the reason for the delay, the Nikkei Shimbun newspaper reported a view that Kishida might have been checking moves by countries concerned.

Illusion of balanced diplomacy

Explaining Kishida’s X post, Japanese government officials told reporters that he would take advantage of Japan’s connections with both Israel and Palestine to urge both sides to calm down. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported Kishida as “pursuing a balanced diplomacy.” The Sankei Shimbun described the Japanese leader as making “a response differing from that of the United States and Europe.” Does Japanese government really think it could seek a peaceful solution as a mediator? This is simply an illusion by Kishida and some Foreign Ministry officials. A lukewarm response will not be trusted by anyone.

While understanding the Israeli-Palestine conflict has a long historical background, I wonder if Kishida did not liken the Hamas attack to a surprise attack on Japan. What will Kishida do if Japan is suddenly attacked from abroad, a large number of citizens killed and abducted? Will he refrain from fighting back if a friendly country calls for maximum restraint? Isn’t it the duty of a national leader to immediately fight back and make utmost efforts to take back the hostages?

G7 presidency lacking presence

In the first place, Hamas is not an organization representing Palestine. The Japanese government has subjected Hamas to terrorist asset freezes. The Japanese government began to denounce the Hamas attack as terrorism as late as October 11.

Five of the Group of Seven members --- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy --- issued a joint statement supporting Israel on October 9, but Japan was not among the signatories despite its G7 presidency. Kishida may have thought his role as G7 president was over after he hosted the G7 Summit in his hometown Hiroshima in May, but he will remain G7 president until the end of this year. The G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué called for “upholding and reinforcing the free and open international order based on the rule of law.” If Kishida is unable to fulfill his responsibility to achieve this, it is in the national interest for him to resign as prime minister as soon as possible.

Takashi Arimoto is a Planning Committee member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and publisher of Monthly Magazine SEIRON at the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.