When, on March 21, Fumio Kishida laid a wreath in the stricken Ukrainian town of Bucha, Japan’s Prime Minister remarked upon “great anger at the atrocity.” Kishida, 65, knows the pain of war; he lost several relatives to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, his ancestral home, and grew up on stories of their suffering. And so, faced with rising aggression from Russia, China, and North Korea, Kishida has set about revolutionizing Japanese foreign policy: soothing historical grievances with South Korea, boosting defense spending by over 50%, and strengthening security alliances with the U.S. At home, he has launched a “new model of capitalism” to grow the middle class through redistributive policies. Much work remains: Kishida’s party has faced criticism for marginalizing the LGBTQ+ community and for close links to a controversial cult. But when Kishida welcomes G-7 leaders to Hiroshima in May, he’ll do so as head of a resurgent Japan.
Campbell is a TIME correspondent
- Who Will Be TIME's Person of the Year 2023?
- Why Cell Phone Reception Is Getting Worse
- The Dirty Secrets of Alternative Plastics
- Column: It's Time to Scrap the Abraham Accords
- Israeli Family Celebrates Release of Hostage Grandmother
- In a New Movie, Beyoncé Finds Freedom
- The Top 100 Photos of 2023
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time