The long-running administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now been in office for almost eight years. But unless Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is thinking about seeking “four consecutive terms as LDP president,” the administration has only about two years left at most. For that reason, this cabinet reshuffle should be considered a major reshuffle in preparation for the administration’s final stage.
One of the pending issues that the new cabinet should resolve is putting in place a path toward exiting Abenomics. Monetary easing on a different dimension must have been intended to be a time-limited measure to promote a growth strategy. Fiscal and monetary risks ballooned while the goal of emerging from deflation remained unattainable. It is Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso who are responsible for that.
The Prime Minister retained Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to serve as the backbone of the new cabinet. Does Abe intend to have the next cabinet carry on this unusual economic policy?
Another pressing matter to attend to is policies to address the Japanese people’s anxiety over the future. It is critical for a long-running administration to take care of this. The administration’s stable power base should be leveraged to address tough issues, such as social security system reform that seeks to place a greater burden on the people.
The Prime Minister has reappointed his aide Katsunobu Kato as Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare and has put Yasutoshi Nishimura, another of his aides, in charge of the new “committee to create a social security system that serves all generations.” We would like to see the Prime Minister himself take responsibility for resolving the people’s anxiety about the future from a long-term perspective.
After the Sokuirei-Seiden-no-Gi ceremony [to proclaim the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito] in October, the cabinet will address the matter of stable succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
Seiichi Eto and Koichi Hagiuda have been awarded cabinet positions for the first time. Both are Abe’s aides and core members of “Nippon Kaigi,” a right-wing group that gives absolute priority to limiting Imperial succession to male members of the male line. These appointments appear to indicate that Abe has decided on the position of not allowing female emperors or female-line emperors.
Thirteen members of the new cabinet are newcomers. This is the result of Prime Minister Abe’s promoting Diet members close to him to prominent positions, while giving consideration to key [LDP] faction legislators on the “waiting list.” Some in the LDP sneer that [the new cabinet] is “inventory clearance of Abe’s aides,” but there is no doubt that the conservative tone of the administration has deepened to a commensurate degree.
Amid that, Abe appointed Shinjiro Koizumi as Minister of the Environment. This was apparently aimed at reducing criticism that the “cabinet is composed of Abe’s friends.”
As for the new LDP executive lineup, Abe has retained Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai and Policy Research Council Chairperson Fumio Kishida and instructed them to work on constitutional amendment together with the party. Abe likely wants to make this the legacy of his long-running administration.
Constitutional debate has not moved forward to date because the Abe administration’s high-handed administration of the Diet has invited pushback from the opposition parties. Should Abe not first change his stance of taking Diet deliberations lightly?