Japan’s Incoming Finance Minister Suzuki in His Own Words
Shunichi Suzuki, a former Olympics Minister is set later Monday to become Japan’s first new finance minister in nearly nine years. He replaces Taro Aso, who held the position for longer than anyone in modern times.
Suzuki, 68, is Aso’s brother-in-law and also a member of the party faction headed by the outgoing finance chief. Economists don’t see Suzuki making any bold policy changes given his background and affiliation, but some speculate that he may be swayed by party dynamics.
Suzuki will inherit a raft of challenges that include getting Japan’s Covid-hit economy back onto a solid recovery track and budgeting for a stimulus package that his boss, incoming Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, has said will be in the 10s of trillions of yen.
Further out, he faces the perennial problem of what do about Japan’s growing mountain of debt. The country’s aging population has caused social security spending to balloon, contributing to a debt-to-GDP ratio that reached nearly 240% last year.
Having won election to parliament nine times, Suzuki is an old political hand. A representative from the remote northern prefecture of Iwate, he’s been an advocate for local economies over the years. Here are some of his more recent comments:
On Regional Economies
“I believe that rural areas need gradual, not radical, reform. In particular, the market-based, winner-takes-all approach of neo-liberal economics has created a difficult situation for rural areas that aren’t competitive. Kishida has pledged to change this, and I believe that he’s the candidate who can promote reforms that are feasible.”
-- Sept. 17 2021, on his website
On Cutting the Sales Tax
“If the sales tax is cut and this leads to less money for the regions, it’ll have a major impact. We’ve already begun to use the consumption tax as a source of funds for free childhood education, and I think we should be cautious about this.”
-- March 24, 2020, as reported by NHK
“During his five years as foreign minister, Mr. Kishida built up a large number of contacts in the international community. As Japan’s top leader, I hope that he will make full use of these contacts and, as the chairman of the Policy Research Council, come up with feasible policies that are well thought out and implemented, so Japan can continue to be a peaceful and prosperous country.”
-- Sept. 29, 2021, in a speech nominating Kishida for party leader
“As chief campaign manager, I strongly made the case that political stability is indispensable above all for the establishment of economic growth through the continuation of Abenomics, the completion of reconstruction, and the promotion of full-fledged regional development.”
-- June 22, 2016, on his website
On the U.S.
“Strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy and security, is essential to addressing the challenging security environment in Asia and various threats around the world. Japan will continue to promote cooperation with the United States in a wide range of fields, and together we will fulfill our roles and responsibilities in the region.”
-- March 25, 2013, in a speech as deputy foreign minister
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