Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida replaced his defence and foreign ministers on Wednesday while also increasing the number of women in the cabinet to a joint record.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi was replaced by former justice minister and veteran lawmaker Yoko Kamikawa, one of five women in the new cabinet, while Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada was succeeded by Minoru Kihara, government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Kihara served as a special adviser to former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and is a senior member of a bipartisan group aimed at promoting ties with Taiwan.
Yoko Kamikawa, Japan’s newly appointed foreign minister and one of the five women in Kishida’s new cabinet, arrives at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: AP

Kishida, a dovish moderate, hopes the revamp will give a boost to his administration, paving the way for his Liberal Democratic Party to emerge victorious from the next House of Representatives election and strengthening support from within his party before the LDP presidential race in 2024.

Out of 19 ministers, Kishida selected 11 new faces as he moves to create a fresh image for his cabinet while keeping several key members to maintain stability. r.

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno and industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura remained in their positions. Matsuno and Nishimura are known for their conservative policy positions.

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The reshuffle comes as support rates for Kishida’s cabinet have continued to slide due partly to problems with the “My Number” national identification card system and public frustration over rising prices in the absence of salary increases.


Given the desire for policy continuity, Kishida retained Digital Minister Taro Kono, a Georgetown University graduate and popular figure who has previously served as foreign minister, to tackle the My Number card problems.

Other new cabinet members include health minister Keizo Takemi, reconstruction minister Shinako Tsuchiya and farm minister Ichiro Miyashita.

But it remains to be seen whether the reshuffle will prove effective in boosting support for Kishida’s cabinet as the decision to retain key figures may not generate much public attention, political experts said.

Kishida (centre) attends a board meeting of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party with its new leadership at the party’s Tokyo headquarters on Wednesday. Photo: Kyodo

Earlier on Wednesday, Kishida, who heads the LDP, changed the ruling party’s leadership. Among its four key executives, he retained Toshimitsu Motegi and Koichi Hagiuda as secretary general and policy chief, respectively, while picking Yuko Obuchi, the 49-year-old daughter of late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, as election campaign chief.

The selection of Obuchi is apparently aimed at freshening up the image of the executive line-up, which is otherwise dominated by male politicians, and comes despite her prior resignation as industry minister in 2014 amid a political funds misuse scandal.


Obuchi replaced Hiroshi Moriyama, who became chief of the general council.

Kishida also retained Vice-President Taro Aso, a former prime minister who heads the LDP’s second-biggest faction after his own, to secure a balanced distribution of power within the party. Motegi is the chief of the LDP’s third-largest faction.

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After the reshuffle, Kishida has said he will work on economic steps to deal with price increases, consider how to fund his flagship child-rearing policy, and address issues related to the release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.