Japan reform chief Kono voices hope to be prime minister

Laveta Brigham

TOKYO — Taro Kono, Japan’s minister for administrative and regulatory reform who is regarded as a likely future candidate for prime minister, on Monday signaled that he in fact wants to seek the top job down the road. “Someday, I want to become prime minister, spell out my own policies […]

TOKYO — Taro Kono, Japan’s minister for administrative and regulatory reform who is regarded as a likely future candidate for prime minister, on Monday signaled that he in fact wants to seek the top job down the road.

“Someday, I want to become prime minister, spell out my own policies to the public, and realize them with the support of the people,” Kono said in an online event held by outlets including TV Tokyo, in response to a question about his dreams for the future.

“In particular, I have been trying to make changes in Japan’s social insurance and energy policy,” he said.

Kono, a former defense and foreign minister, is the son of former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. He had been viewed as a potential candidate to succeed Shinzo Abe as prime minister this fall but opted not to run in the Liberal Democratic Party leadership race.

On his political positions, Kono acknowledged that there were occasions when he “was completely at odds with the LDP or held different views from the administration of the time.” But he stressed that he aims to put policy in place without compromising his own beliefs.

The minister pointed to the example set by Junichiro Koizumi, who burnished his reputation as a maverick reformer by realizing postal service privatization in the 2000’s. “He advocated postal service reform despite overwhelming opposition by the LDP, and he became prime minister and made it happen,” Kono said.

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