Asia - Pacific

Japan's new prime minister ensures intra-party balances in Cabinet

Over half of Fumio Kishida's new Cabinet taking on ministerial posts for first time, with 2 ministers retaining their seats

Ahmet Furkan Mercan   | 06.10.2021
Japan's new prime minister ensures intra-party balances in Cabinet Newly elected Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (Front C) poses with his cabinet members at a photo session at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on October 4, 2021. ( Stanislav Kogiku - Anadolu Agency )


Japan's new prime minister was mindful of the balances within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in his choice of Cabinet members. 

Fumio Kishida was elected prime minister Monday in an extraordinary session of the House of Representatives.

The 64-year-old former foreign minister garnered 311 votes in the 465-seat lower house and 141 votes in the 245-seat House of Councilors, or upper house, of Japan’s parliament, the Diet.

Last week, Kishida came out on top in the LDP's internal elections, defeating Taro Kono, Seiko Noda and Sanae Takaichi, all of whom served in previous governments as Cabinet ministers.

Visible in Kishida's preferences were his sensitivity to appoint young people, as well as the political influence of party heavyweights Shinzo Abe, Taro Aso and Akira Amari.

The replacement of LDP Secretary General Nikai Toshihiro, known as a pro-China figure, by the more anti-China Akira Amari is seen as a signal that Tokyo will take a stauncher position against Beijing.​​​​​​​

Over half of Cabinet new ministers

More than half of Kishida's Cabinet is taking on a ministerial post for the first time.

The average age of the 20-person Cabinet, which includes three female politicians, is now 61.8.

Only two ministers retained their seats, while the LDP’s coalition partner the Komeito party was given one ministry seat.

Abe's Hosoda faction and the Aso faction are the LDP's two largest influential factions. Seven of the 20 seats were given to either the Hosoda or the Aso faction.

Kishida, who took three ministries into his own faction, also favored four ministries to the Takeshita faction.

In the intra-party elections, the faction led by its closest rival Kono could not get a seat in the new Cabinet.

Sensitive balance

Nobuo Kishi, a member of the Hosoda faction, remained in his post as defense minister.

Hirokazu Matsuno -- also a member of the Hosoda faction -- was appointed as Chief Cabinet Secretary and government spokesman, the closest position to the prime minister and the government's "second most favorite post."

The fact that Kishida, who has the title of the country’s longest-serving foreign minister, did not remove Toshimitsu Motegi from his seat was an indicator of the "search for continuity in foreign policy."

For the first time in the last nine years, Aso does not hold the post of finance minister, and his place has been taken by his nephew, Shunichi Suzuki.

The seat of the economy, trade and industry ministry, which has the second greatest importance among ministries in Japan, one of the world's largest economies, was given to the Hosoda faction.

The appointment as trade minister of Koichi Hagiuda, a close friend of Abe, who is known as the country’s longest-serving prime minister, is an indication that the "Abenomics" policies of the Abe era will continue.

Kishida entrusted the Interior and Communications Ministry to Yasushi Kaneko from his faction and the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry to Shinsuke Suematsu of the Hosoda faction.

Takayuki Kobayashi, 46, who has been a member of parliament for three terms, was appointed to the newly established post of economic security minister.

With the appointment of Tetsuo Saito to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, the ruling coalition partner Komeito party was given the impression that "a tradition of ministry guarantees" continues.

The Ministry of Justice was handed over to Yoshihisa Furukawa, who left the Shigeru Ishiba faction, which had the fewest number of deputies before the internal elections.

Upcoming elections

The two general elections ahead of Kishida will shape Cabinet choices. The new Cabinet will first lead Kishida to elections for the House of Representatives on Oct. 31.

The election results of the LDP and its coalition partner party may bring a narrow change, while the results of elections for Japan’s House of Councilors in the summer of 2022 may bring a wide-ranging Cabinet change.

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