Abe Reshuffles Cabinet in Bid to Reverse Slumping ApprovalPolitics
Prime Minister Abe Shinzō reshuffled his cabinet on August 3, 2017, in an attempt to rejuvenate his slumping approval ratings. For the past several months Abe has seen public support for his administration steadily erode amid swirling allegations of favoritism in connection with the government approval of a veterinary school to be headed by one of his long-time friends. His popularity has also taken a hit from other areas, including a series of gaffes and a coverup scandal involving Defense Minister Inada Tomomi, who resigned her post in late July.
Abe hopes to keep his agenda on track, including plans to amend the Constitution, by showing his administration has turned a new page with the reshuffle. The prime minister also rearranged the executive arm of his own Liberal Democratic Party to reassert control and quell possible dissent among the ranks.
Asō and Suga Remain, Kishida Takes LDP Post
Minister of Finance Asō Tarō and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide were among six key figures who retained their positions. Abe drew broadly from the LDP ranks for new posts and gave precedence to previous cabinet experience to bring stability and recast his administration in a more positive light. Notable additions include Kōno Tarō as minister for foreign affairs and Noda Seiko as minister of internal affairs and communications. However, the reshuffle reduces the number of female cabinet members from three to two. Ishii Keiichi, the cabinet’s one member from the LDP’s coalition partner Kōmeitō, remains in his post as minister of land, infrastructure, transport, and tourism.
In the LDP’s executive arm, Nikai Toshihiro retains his position as secretary-general and Takeshita Wataru replaces Hosoda Hiroyuki as chair of the LDP General Council. Kishida Fumio, who had been minister for foreign affairs, will chair the LDP Policy Research Council, and Shionoya Ryū will head the Election Strategy Committee.
The full cabinet is as follows.
Deputy prime minister Minister of finance
Minister of internal affairs and communications
Minister of justice
Minister for foreign affairs
Minister of education, culture, sport, science, and technology
Minister of health, labor, and welfare
Minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
Minister of economy, trade, and industry
Minister of land, infrastructure, transport, and tourism
Minister of the environment
Minister of defense
Chief cabinet secretary
Minister for reconstruction
Chair of the National Public Safety Commission
Minister of state for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs
Minister in charge of economic revitalization
Minister for promoting dynamic engagement of all citizens, science and technology policy
Minister of state for overcoming population decline and reviving local economies
Minister of state for Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
Suzuki Shun’ichi(Banner photo: Prime Minister Abe Shinzō (second from left of front row) and the new cabinet after its first meeting in Tokyo on August 3, 2017. © Jiji.)