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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 2 - 8  > Abe reshuffles his Cabinet without reflecting on scandals
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2017 August 2 - 8 [POLITICS]

Abe reshuffles his Cabinet without reflecting on scandals

August 4, 2017
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on August 3 reshuffled his Cabinet. Evidently, this is his response to “danger signs” such as falling approval rates and his Liberal Democratic Party’s historic defeat in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July.

Later on the same day, Abe at a press conference commented on the reshuffling in connection to scandals involving the school corporations “Moritomo Gakuen” and “Kake Gakuen” and “daily reports” kept by the Self-Defense Force units in PKO missions in South Sudan. These scandals are said to be a direct cause of the growing public criticism against Abe. The prime minister said that he will sincerely reflect on these scandals which have evoked public distrust in the Abe government. However, he did not explain what he will do.

In the reshuffling, the third change to the third Abe Cabinet, Abe removed two ministers having to do with the “Kake Gakuen” issue, Education Minister Matsuno Hirokazu and Minister of State for Regional Revitalization Yamamoto Kozo. This indicates Abe’s intent to draw a curtain over the scandal.

Two key figures in Abe’s regime, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aso Taro, remain in office. Ishii Keiichi, the only Cabinet member from the LDP’s junior coalition partner of the Komei Party, will continue to serve as Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Abe appointed many veteran LDP lawmakers with ministerial experience as his new Cabinet members including Onodera Itsunori who was chosen as Defense Minister for his second time and Education Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa who is a former Agriculture Minister.

Noda Seiko, who was considered a possible rival to Abe in the 2015 election for the LDP leadership, was installed as the Internal Affairs Minister. By this appointment, Abe may try to give the impression that he has secured support from all factions in the LDP.

On the other hand, the names on the list of the reshuffled Cabinet line-up indicate Abe’s desire to amend the pacifist principle of the Constitution. Defense Minister Onodera in 2014, when he had the same post, promoted the Cabinet decision to lift the self-imposed ban on Japan’s exercise of the collective self-defense right. Foreign Minister Kono Taro takes a positive stance in allowing Japan to use the right to collective self-defense and in giving constitutional ground to the SDF.
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