Kishida aims for stability in new Cabinet

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks about the outcome of the House of Councillors election during a press conference at the Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Monday afternoon.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida intends to preserve the core of his current Cabinet in the reshuffle he will likely conduct, together with personnel changes in the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party, as soon as late August, according to sources.

At a press conference Monday, Kishida expressed his intention to prioritize the establishment of a unified party structure, saying, “We have to focus on party solidarity in dealing with various issues.”

Kishida is considering keeping Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, who belongs to the Abe faction, the party’s largest, and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who is a member of the Kishida faction.

In forming a new Cabinet, Kishida is drawing from the example of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since the launch of his second Cabinet in December 2012, Abe retained Yoshihide Suga as chief cabinet secretary and Taro Aso as deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Suga would later serve as prime minister in his own right. Aso is now the LDP’s vice president.

Abe established a stable system of governance led by the Cabinet Office by preserving the core of the Cabinet, leading to the longest administration in the nation’s history.

Kishida likely intends to also prioritize the stability and continuity of his Cabinet, and to assert his own individuality through such measures as promoting young lawmakers to other key posts.

Kishida said Monday, “We are facing one of the most difficult situations of the postwar period, one that requires us to run the government in a time of emergency.”

Some in the government are calling for Suga’s appointment as deputy prime minister or to another key post. Suga does not belong to any faction and is known as a skilled technocrat for his efforts to establish the Digital Agency and lower mobile phone fees.

A senior official of an economy-related government ministry or agency said Suga’s appointment to a key Cabinet post would help promote and push through reform, abilities which are lacking in the current Kishida Cabinet.

Kishida also intends to show consideration for other party factions.

The 44-member Kishida faction is only the fourth largest in the LDP. To manage his administration in a stable manner, it is essential to obtain cooperation from other groups, such as the Abe faction with 93 members, the Motegi faction led by LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi with 54 members and the Aso faction with 49 members.

The current Cabinet posts were shared out proportionately based on faction size, with the Abe and Motegi factions holding four posts each, and the Aso and Kishida factions holding three posts each.

Regarding the Abe faction, which lost its leader when Abe was fatally shot last week, people around Kishida have said there needs to be more careful consideration about how to deal with the faction members for the posts.