TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio launched his new cabinet Wednesday, retaining key ministers and bringing in experienced former ministers apparently to ensure the stability of his government.
At the same time, Kishida renewed 14 of the 19 ministerial posts, reflecting the prime minister’s aim to highlight that his government is making a fresh start, in the face of backlash against his administration over links between politicians and the controversial religious group known as the Unification Church.
“I carried out the reshuffle in order to swiftly establish an emergency-time cabinet that can respond to the public mandate given to us in the (July) House of Councillors election in a visible way as soon as possible,” Kishida told a press conference held at the prime minister’s office after an attestation ceremony for his new cabinet ministers at the Imperial Palace.
“While maintaining the cabinet’s structure, I picked experienced and able ministers to form a cabinet that will push through policies responding to emergency situations,” the prime minister also said.
On the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s links with the Unification Church, Kishida said, “I appointed as ministers only those who checked their ties (with the religious group) and agreed to review these strictly based on the results.” The prime minister added that he has instructed each minister to deal strongly with law violations linked to the Unification Church and to make sure related victims are helped.
Members of Kishida’s cabinet who stayed in their posts included Chief Cabinet Secretary MATSUNO Hirokazu, 59, Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa, 61, and Finance Minister SUZUKI Shunichi, 69. Land minister SAITO Tetsuo, 70, a member of Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, and economic revitalization minister YAMAGIWA Daishiro, 53, were also kept in their positions.
As defense minister, to work on strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities partly in response to growing tensions over Taiwan, Kishida appointed former Defense Minister HAMADA Yasukazu, 66.
KATO Katsunobu, 66, who has served as chief cabinet secretary and health minister, has been appointed to the post of health minister for the third time. He will spearhead the government’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former LDP Policy Research Council chair TAKAICHI Sanae, 61, was named as economic security minister. Former Foreign Minister KONO Taro, 59, was appointed digital minister.
Former economic revitalization minister NISHIMURA Yasutoshi, 59, became industry minister. He will be tasked with implementing measures to tackle soaring energy prices and moving forward with restarts of nuclear power plants.
Five ministers, including Nishimura, came back into the cabinet.
There are nine first-time ministers, including OGURA Masanobu, 41, minister to address declining birthrate, and two female ministers.
State ministers and parliamentary vice ministers are expected to be appointed on Friday.
Ahead of the launch of his new cabinet, Kishida, also president of the LDP, held talks with Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi and confirmed the two parties’ cooperation.
Earlier on Wednesday, the LDP launched its new executive team. While Vice President ASO Taro Aso, 81, and Secretary-General MOTEGI Toshimitsu, 66, stayed in their posts, ENDO Toshiaki 72, who previously chaired the Election Strategy Committee, became chairman of the General Council and former industry minister HAGIUDA Koichi, 58, was appointed to chair the Policy Research Council.
MORIYAMA Hiroshi, 77, former parliamentary affairs chief, became chairman of the Election Strategy Committee.