The party leaders also discussed ways to mend the pandemic-hit economy and respond to any future waves of the coronavirus — issues expected to feature prominently in the Oct. 31 elections. As head of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, Kishida was selected prime minister earlier this month and called the election for the 465-seat lower house, the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber Diet, or parliament. He said he is seeking a public mandate for his leadership and policies.
Official campaigning for the election begins Tuesday. Kishida said Japan’s security environment has been rapidly changing. He noted that North Korea likely possesses several hundred missiles capable of reaching Japan, and said Japan should consider acquiring the ability to strike back at an enemy base as a deterrence option allowable under international law.