The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) factions welcome Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s appointments in the cabinet reshuffle on Oct. 2 which gave a certain extent of consideration to a balance among the factions. However, there is some discontent with appointments perceived to have been made according to “level of contribution” to the recent presidential election.
At around 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, Satsuki Katayama, Takamori Yoshikawa, and Yoshitaka Sakurada received phone calls one after another asking them to become new cabinet members, during a meeting at the office of the Nikai faction (44 members). They were cheered and sent out the door by some 30 members gathered there.
Along with the Hosoda and Aso factions, the Nikai faction was among the first to declare its support for Abe in the presidential race. This faction had only been given one cabinet post in the last reshuffle in 2017. A faction officer was all smiles about the “perfect results.”
The Aso faction (59 members) was also jubilant, with four members in the new cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who have been retained. Adding to their elation was the fact that Akira Amari was appointed as chairman of the LDP Election Strategy Committee in the party leadership reshuffle. Faction member new Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters on Oct. 2: “It took a long time. I am really grateful,” expressing his delight at getting a cabinet job. Iwaya supported Shigeru Ishiba in the 2012 LDP election but he switched to supporting Abe in the last one.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere in the Kisihda faction (48 members) was a bit different. While the faction got three posts, including first cabinet jobs for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Minister Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi and S&T Policy Minister Takuya Hirai, this was one less than in the previous cabinet.
Faction leader Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida declared support for Abe in the presidential race much later than the Nikai and Aso factions. While the appointment of Miyakoshi and Hirai were in line with the endorsement list submitted by the faction, there is an opinion that the faction’s getting one less post was the “consequence of coordination based on handing out rewards in accordance with contribution in the presidential election,” according to a veteran politician.
Meanwhile, Abe’s own Hosoda faction (96 members) actually got only three posts as a result of distributing cabinet jobs to other factions that supported him in the election. These three posts included Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko, who has been retained, and National Public Safety Commission Chair Junzo Yamamoto, who filled the post reserved for House of Councillors members. House of Representatives members in the faction are dissatisfied that they were “short-changed,” according to a mid-ranking member. Even in the LDP leadership reshuffle, Ryu Shionoya was relieved as chair of the Election Strategy Committee.
The Ishiba faction (20 members), which fought against Abe in the presidential race, reacted strongly to Abe’s “poaching” of Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita. A member who supported Ishiba criticized this “appointment over the heads of mid-ranking Diet members hoping to join the cabinet” as “nothing more than an act of spite against the Ishiba faction.”
The Takeshita faction (55 members), which basically allowed its members to vote freely in the presidential election, got two cabinet appointments, unchanged from the previous reshuffle. A faction member will also continue to hold the position of General Council chairman.
The Ishihara faction (12 members), which came out in support of Abe in the LDP election even later than the Kishida faction, only had Hiroshi Moriyama retained as Diet Affairs Committee chairman and has still failed to gain any cabinet appointment.