The following is a commentary by University of Tokyo Professor Emeritus Mikuriya Takashi.
The recent Cabinet reshuffle and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) executive board appointments reflect typical factional politics. The Cabinet and party leadership include members of both large and small factions. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio must have thought about the lineup carefully. The Cabinet members truly represent a whole-party approach.
The four appointees from the Abe faction are well-placed. Takaichi Sanae, who advocates the ideology of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, was appointed economy security minister. The Abe faction should be pleased with these appointments.
Kato Katsunobu was appointed Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare. Kato, a veteran health minister, is expected to handle COVID-19 measures. Digital minister Kono Taro is expected to shake up the stagnant Digital Agency.
The Cabinet lineup seem to emphasize reliability, as seen by Kishida’s retention of core members, and there were no surprises. The Cabinet members are all veteran lawmakers. Kishida cannot afford to fail, and so carefully selected people who could perform their jobs properly.
Kishida also emphasized whether the appointees have severed their relationships with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly, the Unification Church). We should continue monitoring this matter, however, as other relationships and issues may be revealed in the future.
Important issues remain in the areas of diplomacy and security. Hamada Yasukazu, assuming the post of defense minister for the second time, will be responsible for strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities. Foreign minister Hayashi Yoshimasa will remain in his post ahead of the Group of Seven (G7) summit to be held in Hiroshima in 2023. Both ministers can be trusted to move forward with the necessary tasks, with Kishida giving the final approval.
The public is paying attention to the kinds of results this Cabinet will produce. Kishida has been ambiguous in many ways, sometimes expressing two opinions on the same issue. Public opinion of Kishida will improve if he makes his own decisions and conveys his ideas to the public.