Japanese PM to reorganize cabinet amid Taiwan, Unification Church problems from Reuters

Reuters. FILE PHOTO – On August 1, 2022, in New York City, New York, the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations during the summit to revise the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. David “Dee” Delgado for Reuters Through Kantaro Komiya

(Reuters) TOKYO –

Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, announced on Saturday that he will replace his government the next week to handle pressing challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, tensions with Taiwan, and anti-inflation economic stimulus measures.

After attending a commemoration for the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic attack in the city, he said at a news conference in Hiroshima, “We need to launch off a new formation as soon as possible considering the numerous challenges.”

The unexpected staff shift also occurs as public scrutiny of his administration’s handling of the alliance between politicians from the ruling party and the Unification Church, which includes the late former prime minister Shinzo Abe, grows.

At a news conference on Saturday, Natsuo Yamaguchi, the head of Kishida’s ruling coalition partner Komeito party, claimed that Kishida had told him the cabinet change will be announced on Wednesday.

Despite the Yomiuri daily’s earlier speculation that Kishida would likely replace Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi due to his health difficulties, Kishida did not provide any additional information about his cabinet moves.

As tensions between self-governing Taiwan and the mainland of China have increased recently, defense is receiving a lot of attention.
The government is now faced with a new issue since COVID infection rates have recently increased to record levels.

After a memorial service for Abe, who was fatally shot last month, a reorganization of the government and ruling party officials was planned, but Kishida moved it up to address declining support for the cabinet in surveys, the Yomiuri reported.

In a July election held two days after Abe’s passing, Kishida’s conservative coalition administration extended its majority in the upper house of parliament, prompting the reshuffle.

Since September 2020, Kishi, 63, Abe’s younger brother, has served as defense minister.

The Jiji news agency said on Friday that Shunichi Suzuki, the minister of finance, would remain in his position and that Koichi Hagiuda, the minister of industry, would either remain in that position or be transferred to a more significant one.

According to the Yomiuri, the Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Vice President Taro Aso of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi would all probably keep their jobs.


At the press conference, Kishida was also questioned about the Unification Church, a denomination to which the mother of the assassin of Abe belonged and which has been said to have particularly strong ties to Abe’s LDP faction.

For the purpose of gaining the public’s understanding, Kishida said he would direct the cabinet to examine any connections between cabinet members, including deputy ministers, and the church.

I personally don’t have any connections to the gang, as far as I’m aware, he stated.

In a survey conducted by the Kyodo news agency on July 30 and 31, more than 80% of participants said the connection between the Unification Church and politicians must be made public, and 53% indicated they were against holding a formal funeral for Abe.

Support for Kishida’s cabinet dropped 12.2 points to 51.0%, according to the poll, marking the lowest level since his inauguration in October.

Given that Abe was the longest-serving prime minister in modern Japan and that he passed away during “the very cornerstone of democracy,” the election campaign, Kishida said it was proper for the government to arrange a state burial.