| 24 July 2024, Wednesday |

Japan PM swaps foreign and defence ministers in cabinet reshuffle

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is poised to replace his foreign and defense ministries, according to NHK, on the eve of a cabinet reshuffle as the ailing premier seeks to improve his dwindling support.

According to NHK, Yoshimasa Hayashi, the current foreign minister, will be succeeded by Yoko Kamikawa, a former justice minister who oversaw the execution of the head of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult that carried out a deadly sarin gas assault on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

According to NHK, Minoru Kihara will replace Yasukazu Hamada as defence minister. Kihara currently heads a Japan-Taiwan interparliamentary group.

Kishida is otherwise considering retaining Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, Kyodo news agency reported.

Recent opinion polls show Kishida, who became prime minister less than two years ago, scoring lower approval than disapproval ratings, and he has said he plans to reshuffle his cabinet and make changes in the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as early as Wednesday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported Kishida has also decided to keep Hirokazu Matsuno in his current post as chief cabinet secretary, a key position that involves being the main government spokesperson and coordinating policy among ministries.

Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, two prime ministers before Kishida, both served as chief cabinet secretary before becoming premier.

Kishida appointed Suzuki as finance minister when he formed his first cabinet in October 2021. Continuity at the finance ministry would underscore his administration’s focus on keeping sharp yen falls in check, and compiling a fresh package of measures to cushion the blow from rising living costs.

Nishimura’s time in charge of Japan’s trade, industry and energy policy has coincided with tense bilateral ties with China following the decision to release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

  • Reuters