Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Unlikely to Make Extreme Changes in Reshuffle of Cabinet, Ruling Liberal Democratic Party Posts

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrives for a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday in Tokyo as Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, left, and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada greet him.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will announce a reshuffled Cabinet on Wednesday that is unlikely to contain much surprise, according to government sources.

The same day, Kishida, as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, will also make minor adjustments to the officials in the ruling party, LDP sources said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno and Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki are likely to stay on, while moves are being made to retain Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and economic security minister Sanae Takaichi. The idea has also been floated to keep digital minister Taro Kono.

On Tuesday morning Kishida held a meeting with Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner. Yamaguchi asked Kishida to retain the sole Komeito member in the Cabinet: Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito. The prime minister intends to agree to Yamaguchi’s request.

As for first-time cabinet members, Kishida appears set on appointing Masahito Moriyama, a former state minister of justice.

Kishida will also replace two deputy chief cabinet secretaries: Seiji Kihara and Yoshihiko Isozaki.

In the LDP, Kishida intends to retain Vice President Taro Aso, Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi and Koichi Hagiuda, chairperson of the LDP Policy Research Council.

Matsuno and Hagiuda are members of late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s faction, the largest in the LDP.

Changes to party posts will likely include Hiroshi Moriyama, chairperson of the Election Strategy Committee, becoming the General Council chairperson, and Yuko Obuchi, chairperson of the Party Organization and Campaign Headquarters, taking over for Moriyama.

By moving Obuchi to a more prominent post, Kishida seeks to impress on the public that he is actively appointing women.

Obuchi, a Motegi faction lawmaker who has been elected to the House of Representatives eight times, had once been an Abe Cabinet member. She resigned as economy minister in October 2014 over problems involving political funds reports from political organizations connected to her. Some LDP members say that she has yet to be sufficiently accountable for the scandal.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, second from right, who is the president of the Liberal Democratic Party, attends a meeting with party executives including, from right, Taro Aso, Toshimitsu Motegi, Koichi Hagiuda and Hiroshi Moriyama, at LDP headquarters in Tokyo on Tuesday.

During an LDP executive meeting at party headquarters in Tokyo on Tuesday, Kishida cited the low birth rate as among the issues that must be tackled without delay. The prime minister is aiming for the changes in the LDP and the Cabinet reshuffle to help take on these issues.

Kishida intends to hold an extraordinary Cabinet meeting Wednesday to finalize the resignations of Cabinet ministers and launch his reshuffled Cabinet in the afternoon.