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Few cabinet posts open to first-timers in upcoming reshuffle

  • September 27, 2018
  • , Mainichi , p. 5
  • JMH Translation
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In the cabinet reshuffle set for Oct. 2, all eyes are on Abe’s handling of the about 80 Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet members on the “waiting list” to join the cabinet (elected five or more times to the Lower House or three or more times to the Upper House). Those in factions that supported the Prime Minister in the recent LDP presidential election have high hopes, but it looks like they will be scrambling for a limited number of posts.

 

The Prime Minister is poised to retain those in key positions, such as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso as well as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, calling them a “solid foundation.” Abe is also considering reappointing Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko, and Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi. There is a chance that about 10 ministers will be replaced. A limited number of those will be open to first-timers because it is thought that some Diet members with cabinet experience will be asked to join again.

 

The five LDP factions that assisted Abe in winning a third consecutive term as LDP president – namely, the Hosoda, Aso, Kishida, Nikai, and Ishihara factions – are expecting to be allotted posts as a reward for their contribution to Abe’s victory. Three members of the Aso faction are currently in the cabinet, and the faction’s middle-ranking Diet members “want to see the faction have four members in the cabinet for the sake of our members on the cabinet waiting list.” A Kishida faction member looking to be appointed says, “I would like to see the Prime Minister’s Office [Kantei] recognize me. I backed Abe in the election, thinking that local municipal assembly persons “had blundered” by supporting former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba.”  

 

Those Diet members elected from prefectures where more supported Ishiba than Abe in the rank-and-file member vote are pessimistic. A source close to a Diet member from such a prefecture despairs: “Our rank-and-file members went and voted for Ishiba, so there is no way we’ll be appointed to the cabinet.” Sources close to the Takeshita faction, which in effect left the vote up to its members’ discretion, have low expectations: “If our faction’s Kato and Motegi are retained in the cabinet, we won’t get much more.”

 

It will be a test of the faction leaders whether they can use their political clout to get their members into the cabinet. LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson Fumio Kishida, who spearheads the Kishida faction, will be retained, but sources close to the faction say, “None of the faction members will be appointed if Kishida does not say something like: ‘I don’t need to be chair of the Policy Research Council. Please treat the my faction members well.’”

 

Chances are good that the reshuffled cabinet will be in office at the time of next year’s Upper House election, and there are concerns about the risk of appointing anyone who is an unknown quantity. An Upper House member up for reelection next year warns: “Only the most solid people will be appointed to the cabinet this time.”

 

Those on the waiting list will also have to fight off rivals from among Diet members that are not yet of the appropriate age. The highly popular Chief Deputy Secretary-General Shinjiro Koizumi voted for Ishiba in the presidential election, but a source close to the Kantei commented: “There may be a few surprises in the new cabinet lineup.”

 

Key LDP faction members hoping for cabinet positions 

Faction

 

No. of times elected

(Asterisk indicates person is Upper House member)

Hosoda faction

(chairman: Hiroyuki Hosoda)

Masahiko Shibayama

6

Yasutoshi Nishimura

6

Koichi Hagiuda

5

Kotaro Nogami*

3

Junzo Yamamoto*

3

Aso faction

(chairman: Taro Aso)

Takeshi Iwaya

8

Kazunori Tanaka

8

Yoshiaki Harada

8

Toshiko Abe

5

Keizo Takemi*

4

Takeshita faction

(chariman: Wataru Takeshita)

Asahiko Mihara

8

Taimei Yamaguchi

7

Hiromichi Watanabe

7

Masakazu Sekiguchi*

4

Satoshi Ninoyu*

3

Kishida faction

(chair: Fumio Kishida)

Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi

8

Naokazu Takemoto

8

Takuya Hirai

7

Norio Mitsuya

6

Genjiro Kaneko*

2 (also elected to LH 5 times)

Nikai faction

(chair: Toshihiro Nikai)

Katsuei Hirasawa

8

Taku Yamamoto

8

Yoshitaka Sakurada

7

Takamori Yoshikawa

6

Ryota Takeda

6

Ishiba faction

 

Masazumi Gotoda

7

Yoshihisa Furukawa

6

Ishihara faction

Tetsushi Sakamoto

6

Unaffiliated

Ichiro Aisawa

11

 

Hiroyuki Sonoda

11

 

Masatoshi Ishida

7

 

Shinako Tsuchiya

7

 

Hiroshi Okada*

4

 

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