Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a new Cabinet for his government on Wednesday, August 10. The reshuffle comes after the Upper House elections on July 10, which saw the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) win a solid majority.
The changes in the Cabinet included the appointment of 19 ministers.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the tensions in Taiwan and between the United States and China, and the rising costs of living all over the world, this is a historic moment,” said Kishida on the evening of August 10.
In short: the Prime Minister has a lot on his plate in the coming months.
We summarize some of the main facts of the Cabinet reshuffle, and discuss its context and timing.
Who are the new appointees?
Nine ministers are entering the Cabinet for the first time. They include eight men and one woman:
- Minister of Interior: Minoru Terada
- Minister of Justice: Yasuhiro Hanashi
- Minister of Education: Keiko Nagaoka
- Minister of Agriculture: Tetsuro Nomura
- Minister of the Environment: Akihiro Nishimura
- Minister in charge of Recovery: Kenya Akiba
- Minister in charge of Declining Birth Rates, Gender Equality: Masanobu Ogura
- Minister in charge of Regional Revitalization: Naoki Okada
- Minister in charge of National Public Safety and Natural Disasters: Koichi Tani
Who are the Cabinet returnees?
Five ministers have served as Cabinet members in the past and return to join the Kishida Cabinet:
- Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare: Katsunobu Kato
- Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry: Yasutoshi Nishimura
- Minister in charge of Digital Transformation: Taro Kono
- Minister in charge of Economic Security: Sanae Takaichi
- Minister of Defense: Yasukazu Hamada
Among them, Kato is coming back to lead the Ministry of Health for the third time, and Hamada will lead the Ministry of Defense for the second time.
Which ministers are staying in their posts?
Five ministers are maintaining the positions they have held since Kishida took office in October 2021:
- Minister of Foreign Affairs: Yoshimasa Hayashi
- Minister of Finance: Shunichi Suzuki
- Minister of Land, Transport, and Infrastructure: Tetsuo Saito
- Chief Cabinet Secretary: Hirokazu Matsuno
- Minister of Economic Revitalization and COVID-19 policy: Daishiro Yamagiwa
How many women are part of the Cabinet?
There are two women among the new Cabinet members: Keiko Nagaoka and Sanae Takaichi. That is one fewer than the first Kishida Cabinet.
What is the age group of the new Cabinet?
Out of the 19 ministers in the Cabinet, the largest group of 12 are in their sixties. The youngest minister is 41, and the oldest member of the Cabinet is 78.
How are the LDP factions represented in Kishida’s new Cabinet?
This Cabinet includes a balance in terms of representation of the factions inside the ruling party and a coalition partner:
- Abe faction: 4 ministers.
- Aso faction: 4 ministers.
- Kishida faction: 3 ministers.
- Motegi faction: 3 ministers.
- Nikai faction: 2 ministers.
- LDP members not in a faction: 2 ministers.
- Komeito (coalition party): 1 minister.
What are the priorities for this Kishida Cabinet?
In the August 10 press conference, Kishida defined his government as “‘policy-executing,’ with the capability of responding to emergencies.”
The Prime Minister delineated five specific areas of focus for his new government:
- Strengthening of the defense budget by the end of the year (2022).
- Strengthening economic security, including a focus on supply chain issues.
- Revamping the economy, to actualize Kishida’s vision of a “new form of capitalism.”
- The continued handling of the COVID-19 pandemic per the New Law on Infectious Diseases.
- Strengthening the policy to tackle declining birth rates.
What is in the background of the reshuffle?
After the Upper House elections on July 10, the majority coalition of the LDP and Komeito gained seats in the National Diet. It was a big win for the LDP, and many wondered whether Prime Minister Kishida would use the opportunity to put more of his supporters in the Cabinet.
Public sentiment also might have impacted Kishida’s choices this time. His Cabinet saw a two-point decrease in support in July, compared to the previous month, according to a Fuji News Network poll conducted on July 23 and 24.
What about the aftermath of Shinzo Abe’s death?
On July 8, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed while making a stump speech at a political rally.The respected statesman also led the largest faction in the LDP. Ahead of the Cabinet announcement, commentators wondered what role Kishida would give to Abe faction members in his new Cabinet.
In addition, there had been many media reports on the affiliations with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, more commonly known as the Unification Church, of the mother of Abe’s suspected assassin. Since Abe’s death, several LDP politicians had publicly admitted that their offices had received campaign support in the form of money from the church or its members.
On August 10, Kishida specified that he had not accepted money and had no relationship with the Unification Church. While specifying that the freedom of religion is protected under the Japanese Constitution, Kishida also said, “We need to be cautious and not raise concern among the general population regarding relations with an organization that has been pointed out as socially problematic.”
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Author: Arielle Busetto