Analysis: Kishida's Cabinet reshuffle

NHK World's senior political commentator Masuda Tsuyoshi analyzes Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio's Cabinet and Liberal Democratic Party executive reshuffle.

Although Kishida is adding 11 new faces to the Cabinet, he left many leading LDP executives in place.

Keep your friends close, and your rivals closer

Masuda says Kishida wants to solidify support within the LDP's six factions before the party's next presidential election in the fall of 2024.

Key party posts — the vice president, secretary general and policy chief — are currently held by three factions. Masuda says because Kishida's faction is the fourth largest, support from the others will be crucial to his reelection.

From left: Aso Taro serves as LDP vice president, Motegi Toshimitsu as secretary general and Hagiuda Koichi as the Policy Research Council chairperson.

Masuda says Kishida is also retaining Cabinet ministers who are potential rivals in the upcoming election. Kishida wants to make it more difficult for them to criticize his administration and possibly run against him.

Digital Transformation Minister Kono Taro and Economic Security Minister Takaichi Sanae will retain their posts.

Adding women to boost popularity

Out of 19 ministers, five are women. Masuda says Kishida has added them to increase his Cabinet's approval rating, which sank to a record low in August. Masuda says that as Japanese society evolves, voters increasingly expect to see more female politicians in leadership positions.

He also says that by appointing a woman as foreign minister — the face of Japan's diplomacy — Kishida is signaling that he wants women to assume key roles.

Kamikawa Yoko will be the new foreign minister.

Kishida also appointed a woman as chair of the LDP's Election Strategy Committee. Obuchi Yuko, the daughter of a former prime minister, is well known.

Obuchi Yuko will chair the LDP's Election Strategy Committee.

Masuda says he doesn't expect a major change in Kishida's approval rating anytime soon. He and many other observers believe the overall shuffle doesn't go far enough.

Still, Masuda says Kishida may call an election this year if his approval rating drastically improves.

The Lower House's current term will reach its halfway mark next month.

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