TOKYO – Masahiko Shibayama, a former special advisor to Abe as the ruling party president and known as a supporter of the prime minister, has been handed his first Cabinet post, that of the education, culture, sports, science and technology minister.
The 52-year-old former lawyer was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2004 following victory in a by-election in Saitama Prefecture. He became a candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party through an open recruitment campaign organized by Abe, then the party’s secretary general.
Shibayama has drawn fire in the past, as he commented on a commercial television broadcast program that if same-sex marriage is legalized in Japan, it would accelerate a decline in birth rates.
Originally from central Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, Shibayama holds a second “dan” rank black belt in karate and once dreamed of becoming a singer as a student.