Japanese Prime Minister Completes Formation of New Cabinet

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe handed out portfolios to nine first time ministers but retained his key allies in a cabinet reshuffle Wednesday purportedly aimed at refocusing the government’s efforts on economic revival while clambering to restore a few of the public’s faith that plummeted following the ruling camp’s forced passage of security legislation ahead of upper house elections next year.

Advertisement

Abe is expected to retain about half of the current 19 cabinet members, including those heading up the key finance, foreign affairs and economics ministries.

“It would contribute largely to our nation’s security and Asia-Pacific regional stability, and it would have significant strategic meaning if China joined the system in the future”, Prime Minister Abe said at a news conference.

Abe named veteran lawmaker Motoo Hayashi in the trade and industry portfolio, replacing Yoichi Miyazawa after just over one year in the post. Hiroshi Hase, a former high school teacher and professional wrestler, was made education minister.

With this in mind, multiple reports say Abe is scheduled to promote his Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, 59, to a newly created portfolio encouraging greater workforce participation.Kato, a former finance ministry bureaucrat and a father of four daughters, is also likely to take charge of female empowerment – a key element of the so-called “Abenomics” reforms unleashed more than two years ago.

The new slogan, Abe aides say, is meant to show that all Japanese will be included in economic growth.

Indeed, each country has to have its government ratify the deal, and leading economists are already suggesting that the pact is more about managed trade rather than free trade and have questioned the lack of transparency of the overall process, which may be a sizable sticking point for the public too, when details of the agreement are released prior to them being sent for ratification.

He will coordinate policies to raise the low fertility rate and reform Japan’s creaking social security system.

However, despite her appointment, the number of women in Abe’s cabinet fell from five to three, signaling a setback in Abe’s attempt to include more women in his ministerial team.

Koichi Hagiuda, an LDP aide to Abe, replaces Kato. Hagiuda, 48, has sometimes caused headaches for Mr Abe’s government with outspoken comments on Japan’s wartime past, a topic that often frays ties with China.

Japan’s economy contracted at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter.

Advertisement

Fears of recession will keep the BOJ under pressure to ease when it meets again on October 30.

Katsunobu Kato