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Roundup of newspaper editorials on Abe’s cabinet reshuffle

  • October 10, 2018
  • , Sankei , p. 8
  • JMH Translation

By Shigeyuki Ii


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has just reshuffled his cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership. He will soon be entering his seventh year in office after his political comeback. The new cabinet is the first team for wrapping up “Abe politics” in the next three years. The question is how well it can take advantage of the strengths of a prolonged administration to produce concrete results.


Japan is facing an increasingly difficult environment in light of the security environment in Asia and the decline in birthrate and rapid aging of the population.


Sankei Shimbun demanded: “A political stalemate must not be allowed. [The new cabinet] must present a long-term vision of robust policies for constitutional revision and safeguarding Japan’s peace and prosperity and implement these policies boldly.”


Yomiuri Shimbun also asserted: “With complacency and arrogance pervasive because of the prolonged hold on power, it is important for the cabinet as a whole to have a sense of urgency and prioritize and implement policies. The Prime Minister must bear in mind that failure to do so will immediately cause the cabinet to lose steam.”


The new cabinet has as many as 12 rookie members, many of them from the lists of ministerial hopefuls endorsed by the LDP factions. While Abe insisted that “this is a team play cabinet of members capable of practical work,” many view this rather as “disposal of unsold stock.”


Asahi Shimbun voiced strong criticism: “Factions that supported [Abe] in the presidential election were rewarded with ministerial posts. A close confidant tainted by ‘politics and money’ issues was given a key position in the party. Such inward-looking appointments will not enable him to consolidate the foundation for the restoration of trust in politics and the administration and to work on difficult policy issues.”


Mainichi Shimbun expressed concern that, “The large number of new ministers raises concerns about their administrative skills and how well they can respond to Diet interpellations. There will also be increased risks of attack by the opposition concerning past behavior and scandals.” It also decried the fact that “there is only one female minister when there used to be five at one time. The slogan of ‘empowerment of women’ now sounds hollow.”


In contrast to the large number of new cabinet members, the three ministers in charge of economic affairs, Finance Minister Taro Aso, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko, and Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi were retained.


Nikkei looked at this in a positive light, noting: “It was good not to resort to surprise appointments just for show.” It added: “What the voters are looking at is if the new cabinet will improve their daily life,” urging the administration to focus on policies.


With regard to policies, Sankei pointed out: “Now is the time to work vigorously toward a solution to the issue of low fertility and a graying population, which the Prime Minister termed a national crisis.”


Abe has pledged to “boldly implement reforms for a social security system for all generations in three years.” Sankei observed that, “Policies on pension, medical services, nursing care, and measures to deal with the declining birthrate are all closely related. He should realize that a three-year period is too short for social security reform.” It asked Abe to present his overall vision of this reform.


The consumption tax rate will be raised to 10% in October 2019 to fund social security expenditures. This consumption tax increase has been put off twice. Yomiuri stated: “This time, we hope that an economic environment capable of coping with the tax hike will be put in place.”


Yomiuri also asked Abe to lead the reforms, saying: “It is important to control the ballooning medical, nursing care, and pension spending in order to provide better benefits to the next generation. System changes that will come with additional financial burden are inevitable. It is the political authorities’ responsibility to realize these changes while obtaining the people’s understanding.” (Slightly abridged)

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