Kishida abandons plan to appoint Suga to key Cabinet position

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, greets former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the Prime Minister’s Office in November 2021.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is believed to have carefully considered appointing former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to a key Cabinet position, such as deputy prime minister, from a desire to see a firmly united Liberal Democratic Party.

Suga, who has a great deal of influence over the party’s non-factional Diet members, also enjoys good relations with the non-mainstream factions led by former LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai and former agriculture minister Hiroshi Moriyama that do not hold any key positions. Kishida is believed to have thought that an appointment of Suga would consequently symbolize party solidarity.

The Kishida side sounded out Suga’s intentions in private, but Suga remained cautious about joining the Cabinet. Kishida himself ultimately opted not to appoint Suga, with whom he does not necessarily have a good relationship.

Some around Kishida voiced concerns that Suga’s joining the government could lead to his seizing control of the administration.

“Suga might have thought of joining the Cabinet if he had received a strong request to do so from the prime minister, but this time they were not on the same wavelength,” said a senior Finance Ministry official.

Instead, Kishida appointed Moriyama as the chairperson of the LDP’s Election Strategy Committee and former Foreign Minister Taro Kono as the digital minister.

Moriyama is close to Suga and Nikai, and Kono is close to Suga. Kishida seems to have thought these appointments would dampen “anti-Kishida” tendencies in the non-mainstream factions.