Fumio Kishida got to work as Japan's prime minister on Tuesday, holding talks with foreign leaders, a day after taking office and forming a Cabinet to meet challenges including reviving an economy battered by COVID-19.
"I have a sense of tension like the one I feel just after a playball announcement in baseball," Kishida told reporters at the prime minister's office after holding a teleconference with U.S. President Joe Biden.
"I would like to speedily respond to various challenges," he said.
In the talks with Biden and separate discussions with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison later in the morning, Kishida agreed with the two leaders to strengthen ties and work together to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
To revive the domestic economy, Kishida has vowed to implement a "new capitalism" that focuses on boosting economic growth and redistributing the fruits of that success to increase middle-class incomes. An economic package worth "tens of trillions of yen" is in the works to support people and businesses reeling from the pandemic, he has said.
Kishida's Cabinet members held their first press conferences at their respective offices, breaking from a tradition of holding them on the night of the Cabinet launch.
Trade and industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said at his press conference that he will "push forward with the restart of nuclear power plants while putting top priority on safety" as he noted the need to reduce carbon emissions.
Hagiuda said he intends to seek Cabinet approval of a revised basic energy plan in time for the U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26, to be held between Oct. 31 and Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Kishida, meanwhile, will be looking to guide the Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition to victory in a general election that will take place Oct. 31.
Kishida told a press conference Monday he will dissolve the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of parliament, on Oct. 14, with the campaigning period to start on Oct. 19.
A strong mandate from voters will give Kishida's Cabinet, which is full of fresh faces with 13 of its 20 members taking a ministerial post for the first time, greater freedom to pursue his policies.
Kishida appointed Daishiro Yamagiwa as economic and fiscal policy minister, while putting Takayuki Kobayashi in a new post charged with economic security, including preventing a technology drain from Japan.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi were retained, while Shunichi Suzuki, a former Olympics minister, was named finance minister.
Parliament convened an extraordinary session and elected Kishida as prime minister on Monday, replacing Yoshihide Suga who resigned amid criticism over his COVID-19 policies.
Kishida is set to deliver a policy speech and answer questions from party leaders in the coming days before heading into the general election.