In an effort to improve the perception of his government, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reshuffled his cabinet while keeping his finance and trade ministries in place.
In the Wednesday reorganization, the premier kept his core policy staff in place as he sought to move swiftly to adopt additional economic stimulus measures, something he has emphasized as a priority.
Price hikes are still outpacing wage increases, which reduces household spending power and lowers support for Kishida’s administration. In an NHK poll taken between September 8 and 10, support increased by three percentage points to 36% as a result of his expansion and extension of gasoline subsidy programs.
Although Kishida won’t have to stand in a national election until 2025, a further decline in support could make it difficult for him to continue leading the long-reigning Liberal Democratic Party.
As he attended the Group of 20 meeting on Sunday in India, Kishida told reporters, “I want to implement bold economic measures.” When the new framework is in place, I want to get going quickly because this must be done quickly.
According to Tomoya Suzuki, an economist at the NLI Research Institute, the premier appears to have placed a high priority on balancing the interests of the various LDP factions. That raises questions about how much the reorganization will advance his policies, he continued.
According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshikazu Matsuno, Kishida retained both Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki. According to Takuji Aida, chief economist at Credit Agricole Securities Asia, he chose Yoshitaka Shindo as a new minister for economic renewal, which might be an indication of the cabinet’s stance on budgetary matters.
A former official from the Finance Ministry, which is known for its fiscal conservatism, is replaced by Shindo, a former deputy minister at METI.
Aida added that Shindo could cooperate with the like-minded Nishimura, giving a positive impression to markets previously deterred by Kishida’s reputation for favoring a more austere line. “Rather than reining in spending, this brings efforts to expand the economy through investment to the fore,” Aida said.
“The important ministers are staying in their positions, so don’t anticipate significant changes in economic and budgetary policy following this cabinet reshuffle. The cost will probably stay within an acceptable range because the cabinet is concerned about rising interest rates.
Toshimitsu Motegi, a potential rival for the position of party leader among the executives in his ruling party, was retained as LDP No. 2 by Kishida. Koichi Hagiuda, the director of party policy, also kept his position.
As his first position in the cabinet, Minoru Kihara, a five-term lawmaker, will take over as defense minister.
Support for former prime ministers increased once they included more women to their cabinets. Five women make up Kishida’s most recent cabinet, matching a record, with former justice minister Yoko Kamikawa serving as foreign minister.
While Sanae Takaichi keeps her post as minister in charge of economic security, women will also be given positions overseeing child policy, regional revitalization, and reconstruction.
According Japanese national broadcaster NHK, eleven new ministers will be joining the cabinet. Seiji Kihara, the deputy chief cabinet secretary and a close adviser to Kishida, was replaced by Hideki Murai, a fellow Finance Ministry alumnus.