Taro Kono, Member of the House of Representatives, Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP)
15:00-16:00 Thursday, December 2, 2021
(The speech and Q & A will be in English)
"What's the next move for Taro Kono?"
Taro Kono, once considered something of a reformist in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), now heads the party's PR department. The new post is widely seen as a demotion for Kono, who has held major cabinet posts such as ministers of defense and foreign affairs - but he is making the most of the job.
Kono is revamping the party's outdated public relations system by promoting the use of social media, and he is launching a new "international desk" within the party, which will promote it overseas. That suits a politician who has long used Twitter very effectively.
Kono has also been an outspoken advocate of streamlining Japan's outdated political and administrative systems. His calls for reform range from scrapping Japan's long-standing dependence on nuclear power to overhauling the national pension system. He is one of the few politicians in the party who is willing to tackle these delicate and yet serious issues. His reformist stance became very popular among the general public in Japan, especially among the young, and he was until recently the top contender to become the party's president, and thus prime minister.
The party's elders, however, have grown cautious about Kono's idiosyncratic politics, and in spite of his popularity, Kono suffered a serious setback in the last presidential election to elect a successor to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in September. As expected, the party's roughly 1.1 million members overwhelmingly supported him, but most of the LDP's Diet members supported Fumio Kishida, resulting in Kishida's victory in the run-off vote.
Kono, who graduated from Georgetown University and speaks English fluently, has spoken at the FCCJ a number of times in the recent years. This is his first appearance since the presidential election. He will talk about how he plans to use social media to promote everything from vaccines to votes, and how Japan needs to shift media relations and public outreach into the 21st century. He may even discuss the prospects of another run for LDP president, and whether he will change his politics to draw more support from fellow Diet members of the party.
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