Ryo Miyoshi, Former Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bureaucrat, Reflects on Prime Minister Kishida’s Stint as Foreign Minister | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ryo Miyoshi, Former Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bureaucrat, Reflects on Prime Minister Kishida’s Stint as Foreign Minister

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s state visit to the U.S. has been the target of much ridicule and criticism

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faced criticism after making remarks such as a historic turning point and a normal country capable of war during an interview with US CNN broadcast ahead of his state visit to the United States, as reported by the Chosun Ilbo and other outlets. Furthermore, during his visit to the US, he referred to China as a ally during a joint press conference with the US President, and shared smiling photos with President Biden inside the presidential car, inviting mockery and criticism.

At times like this, both online and in real life, voices can be heard saying, “I thought he was a more sensible person before becoming prime minister.” But what is the reality?

“I’ve never heard anyone speak badly about Mr. Kishida during his time as Foreign Minister, although Mr. Motegi was heavily criticized. I’ve heard from former colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there was something called the ‘Motegi Manual,’ referring to how Mr. Motegi required both cold and hot towels, and how the atmosphere in the minister’s office was tense when he was around, with everyone standing rigidly upright.

Even during official trips, ministerial staff usually don’t accompany the minister, but Mr. Motegi insisted on having them accompany him, which caused dissatisfaction, especially considering the cost of using charter flights, which amounted to millions of yen.”

These remarks come from Ryo Miyoshi, the head of the Reiwa Shinsengumi Kanagawa 2nd District branch. A former Foreign Ministry bureaucrat, now 38 years old, he is fluent in four languages and currently studying Korean.

Prime Minister Kishida, who visited the U.S. as a guest of honor, delivered a speech at a joint session of the House and Senate (PHOTO: AFLO).

Americans look down on people who don’t have their own ideas and are petulant.

After graduating from high school, Mr. Miyoshi studied in the United States for six years starting at age 19. However, feeling a desire to establish an equal relationship with America and wanting to change politics, he entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2013 with the idea of learning diplomacy first. He’s somewhat of an unconventional figure.

“When I was studying in America, I realized how much Japanese people were being ridiculed and looked down upon. Americans look down on those who don’t have their own opinions and just kowtow. Among Asians, there was a particularly strong impression that Japan’s politics and diplomacy were being ridiculed. Not just by Americans, but by people from other countries as well, often saying ‘Japan is America’s colony.’ 

That was embarrassing, and it strengthened my desire to change Japan’s relationship with the US.

However, when I entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was not sent to my desired America but to Russia. There, I was involved in preparations for President Putin’s visit to Japan, Japan-Russia foreign ministerial meetings, and Japan-Russia summit meetings, as well as interpretation work. But at the same time, I felt that Japan was declining rapidly due to vested interests. After seven years, upon returning to Japan, I realized that the situation was much worse than what I had observed from the outside. 

So, I thought that if the Liberal Democratic Party’s politics continued as they were, it would be disastrous, and that’s why I quit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and knocked on the door of the Reiwa Shinsengumi.”

When he left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, many people told him to “join the Liberal Democratic Party,” “introduce him to LDP members,” and “put on the badge first,” but he refused. 

 “When I was studying in America, I wondered why the LDP was implementing such anti-Japan policies that were causing Japan to deteriorate. I questioned whether they were intentionally destroying Japan or if someone was pulling the strings behind the scenes. Upon investigation, I discovered deep connections with the Unification Church (at the time).


So, when I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I told people there that in the future, I would become a politician and raise the issue of the LDP’s connection with the Unification Church in the Diet. But I was labeled as a conspiracy theorist by people at the ministry, and they laughed, saying, ‘What’s the point of doing something like that?’ Even my family didn’t take me seriously.


It was strange that despite the fact that LDP members were attending various meetings of the Unification Church and sending congratulatory messages, nobody seemed to question it. But after the assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Abe in 2022, people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs finally said to me ironically, ‘Looks like what Miyoshi-san said was true.'”

“Many of my friends at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say they don’t remember anything or have no impression when asked about their impressions of Mr. Kishida during his time as a minister,” says Mr. Ryo Miyoshi (PHOTO: Sugizo).

“Mr. Kishida didn’t have a bad reputation because he would read the bureaucrats’ answers verbatim.”

As for the impression of Mr. Kishida during his time as a bureaucrat and Foreign Minister

“Well, bureaucrats typically prepare responses in advance for events like joint press conferences, where journalists’ questions are anticipated and scripted responses are prepared for ministers or prime ministers to read. Mr. Kishida would simply read the prepared responses, so there wasn’t any negative reputation about him. There was also no sense of arrogance in his demeanor.

However, because he would just read the prepared responses word for word, some would say he was more of a reader than a leader. A senior colleague once told me, ‘Our job is to control the Prime Minister and the ministers. When they say something that wasn’t written, and problems arise, it’s the bureaucrats who have to deal with it. Suppressing your own emotions and what you want to say, and reading every single word, isn’t something everyone can do. It’s an impressive skill.’ I remember that.

When I asked my friends at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about their impressions of Mr. Kishida during his time as a minister, many said they ‘don’t remember anything’ or ‘have no impression.’

However, becoming Prime Minister seems to have changed that perception. Now, he’s asked questions about various topics like the Noto Peninsula earthquake and the secret funds issue. Even when Reiwa’s Representative, Mr. Yamamoto, asked questions in the Diet recently, Mr. Kishida understood the context regarding the Noto Peninsula earthquake and responded in his own words.

At least in comparison to just reading prepared responses as he did before, I think it’s better when Mr. Kishida expresses himself in his own words.

But, during a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when the Northern Territories issue came up and they discussed the UN Charter, Mr. Kishida didn’t provide a response. It was probably unexpected compared to the prepared responses, and he wasn’t ready for Lavrov’s remarks.”

“I think he has the ability to listen. However…”

So, what do you think of Prime Minister Kishida’s ability to listen?

“I believe he has the ability to listen. However, not necessarily to the common people.

During his time as Foreign Minister, he listened to what the Foreign Ministry bureaucrats said, and after becoming Prime Minister, it seems he listens to what organizations like Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), religious groups, and large corporations that provide organizational support and donations say.”

Regarding the often criticized ‘lavish spending abroad,’ there might be some misunderstandings. Overseas assistance decisions are made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but it’s not entirely free; it’s usually in the form of loans. 

“One of the accountants in my office used to work in the accounting department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Basically, the financial accounting of what projects are undertaken is transparent, and it often involves infrastructure projects. 

Money isn’t just handed out abroad; it’s often used to develop infrastructure overseas, and Japanese corporations often win contracts for these projects. These corporations also contribute to the ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). 

However, when I looked into it, the specific details of where the money goes aren’t always disclosed. For instance, if it’s about providing or purchasing various machinery for agricultural purposes, the specifics of where that machinery comes from aren’t always made public.”

If everyone were interested in the election, and if one out of every four people who didn’t go to the last election would go, the results would change.

“Running in the same Kanagawa 2nd District as Mr. Suga was also at my request.”

Actually, besides the voices urging me to join the Liberal Democratic Party, there were invitations from other major political parties as well. However, I chose Reiwa Shinsengumi for several reasons.

“Back in 2013 when I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was being discussed, and I was staunchly against it. However, everyone in the ministry thought that joining the TPP would be in Japan’s national interest. Even though there were many books within the ministry pointing out the negative aspects of the TPP, I found it strange why bureaucrats were pushing for it.

At that time, I heard Mr. Yamamoto, the party leader, giving a speech against the TPP in Shinjuku. I thought, ‘He’s really studied this issue, he’s genuine.’ I chose Reiwa Shinsengumi, a party with no backing from religious groups or big money.

Moreover, the decision to run from Kanagawa 2nd District, the same as Mr. Suga, was at my request. Mr. Suga is 75 years old, while I’m 38. I think the clear contrast between an individual with various vested interests and a newcomer with no political background or connections is apparent.”

Running from Kanagawa 2nd District is undoubtedly a challenging journey. When asked about this, I shared my sentiments and determination:

“Many people tell me to do my best and support me because I’m young. I also love karate, and even someone from a karate dojo who was part of Mr. Suga’s support group said, ‘I won’t support him anymore. I’ll support you.’ Of course, due to business relationships, some people are obliged to support the Liberal Democratic Party. However, when visiting each household, I find that out of 100, maybe only one supports the LDP, if any at all.

But the reality is that many people don’t vote. If everyone takes an interest in elections, and if one out of every four who didn’t vote last time goes to the polls, the outcome could change. I just want to increase voter turnout as much as possible.”

  • Interview and text by Wakako Tago PHOTO Sugizo

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