Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a new Cabinet on Thursday, in a bid to revive his administration, which has seen its public approval ratings plunge, by putting priority on economic growth.
Abe replaced most of his Cabinet members, bringing in veteran former ministers to help stabilize his administration and regain public trust, which has been hurt by a series of scandals, including alleged favoritism of a school operator headed by a close friend of the prime minister.
However, Abe retained key Cabinet members, such as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, 76, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, 68, in order to maintain the framework of his government.
The new Cabinet was formally launched after an attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace.
“I’m deeply reflecting on [those scandals] and apologize to the public,” Abe told a press conference after the inauguration of the Cabinet.
He also said, “I’m determined to boost the economy’s virtuous cycle to end deflation.”
In the Cabinet reshuffle, former administrative reform minister Taro Kono, 54, was appointed as foreign minister and former LDP General Council chair Seiko Noda, 56, who has distanced herself from Abe, was made internal affairs and communications minister.
Itsunori Onodera, 57, acting chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council, was given the portfolio of defense. He is expected to work on rebuilding the Defense Ministry, shaken by a cover-up of Ground Self-Defense Force reports on peacekeeping operations in South Sudan.
Former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, 56, was appointed as education, culture, sports, science and technology minister, taking over at a time when the education ministry is involved in a scandal.
Toshimitsu Motegi, 61, former chairman of the LDP policy panel, was named economic revitalization minister, while Katsunobu Kato, 61, minister in charge of promoting dynamic engagement of all citizens, was appointed to switch to health, labor and welfare minister.
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, 54, postdisaster reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino, 68, and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii, 59, stayed on.
Former Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa, 64, returned to the post, while former Environment Minister Shunichi Suzuki, 64, was named minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Six lawmakers were given cabinet posts for the first time, including State Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ken Saito, 58, who assumed the agriculture portfolio.
House of Councillors lawmaker Masaharu Nakagawa, 70, was named environment minister, and LDP Diet Affairs Committee Acting Chairman Hachiro Okonogi, 52, took up the post of chairman of the National Public Safety Commission.
Former state land minister Tetsuma Esaki, 73, was appointed as minister for issues in Okinawa Prefecture and the disputed Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, called the northern territories, Masaji Matsuyama, 58, the LDP’s Diet affairs chief in the upper house, as minister for promoting dynamic engagement of all citizens, and former state land minister Hiroshi Kajiyama, 61, as regional revitalization minister.
LDP new exec team decided
The LDP launched a new leadership team on Thursday ahead of a cabinet shakeup.
At a special meeting of the decision-making General Council, the party approved the appointments of new leaders.
Among them, Toshihiro Nikai, 78, was reappointed as secretary general and Masahiko Komura, 75, as vice president.
Outgoing Foreign Minister and Defense Minister Fumio Kishida, 60, became chairman of the Policy Research Council. The post of General Council chairman went to Wataru Takeshita, 70, who served as Diet Affairs Committee chairman until the launch of the new leadership team.