Opposition parties accused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of favoring allies rather than making merit-based appointments in his Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday.
Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary general of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Abe had appointed individuals on a waiting list for Cabinet posts.
“It is a Cabinet favoring his close aides and friends,” Fukuyama said at a press conference.
Fukuyama also questioned the timing of the reshuffle, saying hundreds of thousands of households near Tokyo are still facing power and water outages following a powerful typhoon that ripped through the metropolitan area.
The prime minister appointed confidants in the Cabinet shake-up, installing Koichi Hagiuda, executive acting secretary general of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, as education minister and Katsuyuki Kawai, special adviser to the prime minister for foreign affairs, as justice minister.
Abe also retained Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, core members of his team since his return to power in 2012.
The personnel overhaul followed a solid victory in the upper house election in July for the LDP and its junior coalition partner the Komeito party, though ruling coalition and other lawmakers who support Abe’s drive for constitutional reform fell short of securing the necessary two-thirds majority.
Akira Koike, second-in-command of the Japanese Communist Party, likened the new Cabinet to a gathering of friends and added, “It is a provocative lineup squarely challenging the stated will of the people that there is no need to hasten constitutional reform.”
Nobuyuki Baba, secretary general of the Japan Innovation Party, said it was unclear whether the new Cabinet could push ahead with necessary policies such as regulatory reforms.
Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, said he found it difficult to understand what Abe was trying to achieve with this new Cabinet.
“We’ve got piles of items that need answers, policy wise and qualification wise,” Tamaki said.