In Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s third reshuffled cabinet launched on August 3, Abe’s sworn allies and close associates took important posts as usual. On the other hand, the remaining posts were distributed among rank-and-file lawmakers awaiting their time in the sun from each faction of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The reshuffle illustrates the unique dual structure of Abe’s personnel decisions.
Among Abe’s close allies and associates, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who have held the same posts since the beginning of Abe’s second cabinet, remained in their posts. Including these three, a total of nine ministers either kept the same posts or shifted over to different portfolios, including Minister for Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens Katsunobu Kato, whose political beliefs are similar to Abe’s.
Tomomi Inada, who was the minister of state in charge of administrative reform in Abe’s second cabinet and then served as chairperson of the LDP policy research council, reentered the cabinet as the defense minister. Yuji Yamamoto, who was appointed as farm minister, belongs to the faction of former Regional Revitalization Minister Shigeru Ishiba, who left the cabinet this time. Yamamoto devoted himself to the establishment of Abe’s first administration.
On the other hand, in the group of eight first-time ministers, experienced LDP lawmakers seem to have been appointed according to how many times they have been elected. Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto has won eight times, Minister for Reconstruction Masahiro Imamura has been elected seven times, and Minister of State for Vitalizing Local Economy Kozo Yamamoto has won seven times. Excluding female lawmakers because there are not many in the party, five wins in Lower House elections and three wins in Upper House elections are said to be “unofficial qualifications for cabinet posts.” In the latest reshuffle, Abe seems to have appointed new ministers by giving priority to the number of times they have won elections.
With regard to the factions, the new ministers appear to be a well-balanced group, with two ministers each from the Hosoda and Nikai factions, one each from the Kishida, Aso and Nukaga factions, and one from the Tanigaki group.