Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed Monday to put Japan at the forefront of global affairs in a "tense" 2024 that will see several important events, including the U.S. presidential election.

In his New Year's address, Kishida, who puts intense focus on diplomacy with other world leaders, said he will exert leadership "unique to Japan" through summit diplomacy to "overcome challenges," citing issues such as Russia's war on Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech in Tokyo on Dec. 26, 2023. (Pool photo)(Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"We will decisively protect the people's safety and Japan's territory, water and airspace in the complicated security environment in East Asia," said Kishida, who served as foreign minister and defense minister before becoming prime minister in October 2021.

On the economic front, Kishida promised to take necessary measures to deliver wage hikes that outpace surging prices, expressing hope that Japanese citizens will "feel" economic growth to bring a change in the society's "mindset."

As for a political fundraising scandal that has recently rocked his Liberal Democratic Party, Kishida said he will "make every effort to restore the public's trust," although he did not detail what concrete steps he will take.

The LDP's largest faction, formerly led by slain Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is alleged to have created slush funds by failing to declare hundreds of millions of yen in revenue from its fundraising parties in political funding reports.

Approval ratings for Kishida's Cabinet have tumbled against a backdrop of his administration's inability to deliver wage growth at a similar level to rising prices, eroding consumer sentiment. Several scandals involving government and LDP officials have also delivered a blow to his public standing.

"To facilitate the promotion of policies, stability in politics is indispensable," Kishida said.

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