All national dailies reported extensively on the launch on Wednesday of the new cabinet led by Yoshihide Suga, who was elected the 99th prime minister of Japan in both chambers of the Diet on the same day. Among the 20 cabinet ministers appointed on Wednesday, eight of them retained the posts they had held in the Abe cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aso, Foreign Minister Motegi, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kajiyama, Education Minister Hagiuda, Environment Minister Koizumi, and Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura. Seven were either shifted to other portfolios or returned to ministerial positions they had held in the past, including new Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato, who served as health minister under Abe. Five were given their first cabinet posts, including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, the younger brother of Abe. The papers wrote that the new cabinet lineup is aimed at staying the course set by former Prime Minister Abe, including Abenomics.
Suga said at his first press conference as prime minister that he will place top priority on bringing the coronavirus under control and getting the Japanese economy back on its feet, while focusing on regulatory reform. “Regulatory reform is at the center of my administration,” he said. “My cabinet is here to work for the people. We will overcome vested interests and revamp government regulation.” Suga appointed former Defense Minister Kono as minister in charge of administrative reform, making Kono his point man for government and regulatory overhaul. The prime minister also said he will create a new government agency for coordinating digital policy to upgrade the nation’s high-tech capabilities. Takuya Hirai, a former minister for information technology policy under Abe, was appointed as the minister in charge of digital policy.
As for foreign affairs, Suga stated that Japan’s security alliance with the United States will continue to be the foundation of its foreign policy. He added that he will seek to maintain stable relations with neighboring countries, including China and Russia, both of which are engaged in territorial disputes with Tokyo. The new prime minister also renewed his determination to continue working toward securing the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea by saying he will take the lead in resolving the abduction issue in close cooperation with the United States.
Asked by a reporter whether he plans to call an election to seek a public mandate, Suga said that now is the time for the new administration to focus on the pressing issues of the coronavirus outbreak and the recovery of the economy.