Japan PM ‘Mulling Cabinet Reshuffle for 1st Half of Sept’

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, front center, and ministers of his Cabinet following a reshuffle are seen at Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo on Aug. 10 last year.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering a Cabinet reshuffle and executive appointments within the Liberal Democratic Party in the first half of September, according to government and party sources.

Approval ratings for Kishida’s Cabinet have been on a downward trend due to problems with the My Number identification cards, among other issues. The prime minister reportedly wants to boost support for his administration by implementing measures to alleviate public concerns over the ID cards, while reorganizing personnel and carrying out summit diplomacy.

Kishida’s focus on the first half of September is likely linked to planned overseas trips for the Japan-U.S.-South Korea summit meeting, which is likely to take place at the end of August, and the U.N. General Assembly, which is scheduled for mid- or late September, according to the sources.

Plans are afoot within the government and LDP to convene an extraordinary Diet session in early October and to submit a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year aimed at addressing high prices and other issues. Another reason for the timing is to allow newly appointed Cabinet members more time to prepare for the Diet, the sources said.

The current Cabinet was inaugurated Aug. 10 last year following a reshuffle, with party executives being decided the same day. Excluding the party president, LDP executives are limited to one year in office under party rules. However, the party interprets this term as “approximately one year,” so party executives will be appointed when others’ terms expire.

Kishida will face a difficult decision regarding whether to have a minor reshuffle — emphasizing the stability of the current ministers who survived the recent ordinary Diet session — or to make major changes by appointing women and younger ministers. One major point of interest will be whether he retains digital minister Taro Kono, who has been in the spotlight over My Number card-related issues.

Many within the LDP are keeping a close eye on Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, who has expressed a desire to continue in his post.

The prime minister will reportedly make a final decision regarding the timing of the reshuffle based on domestic and overseas circumstances. If a new administration were to significantly boost the Cabinet’s approval rating, it is possible that calls for the dissolution of the House of Representatives during the extraordinary Diet session would increase within the ruling parties.