Japan's new Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi leaves Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence with other ministers for an attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato
politics

Abe shakes up cabinet, bringing in rising star Koizumi

65 Comments
By Hiroshi Hiyama

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday appointed new foreign and defense ministers and promoted a popular rising political star, in a cabinet reshuffle that fueled speculation over the prime minister's successor.

The spectacular appointment as environment minister of Shinjiro Koizumi, the 38-year-old son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, set tongues wagging in Tokyo political classes as the Abe era draws to a close.

"Abe intends to start an open race to pick the next prime minister or even the one after that," said SMBC Nikko Securities chief market economist Yoshimasa Maruyama.

A darling of the Japanese media, Shinjiro Koizumi received blanket coverage for his recent marriage to television broadcaster Christel Takigawa, which was announced at the prime minister's office.

He is the third-youngest minister appointed to the cabinet in Japan since the end of World War II, in a country when seniority is prized in politics and many other walks of life.

Despite intense media spotlight, he has been coy on expressing his view on the issues of the day and there will be close scrutiny over his policies on nuclear power, particularly on whether he will break with his father's anti-nuclear stance.

Abe is set to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister in November but is expected to step down at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership election in 2021 and the jostling for position is already beginning.

Japan's new foreign minister is Toshimitsu Motegi, who was promoted as a reward for his work in negotiating a trade deal with the United States.

Outgoing foreign minister Taro Kono was shifted to the defense portfolio, in a move seen as reinforcing Tokyo's hard line towards South Korea at a time of worsening ties between the two neighbors.

Kono, who has amused commentators by interacting with people on social media -- even offering relationship advice at times -- struck a hard line during the recent spat with Seoul that has infected their trade and security ties.

Motegi, 63, is a Harvard-educated political veteran who worked as a McKinsey consultant before winning a lower house seat in 1993.

Analysts do not expect the shake-up to herald significant changes to Japan's diplomatic policy, which is managed largely by the prime minister's office.

But it may also put Motegi in the starting blocks in the race to succeed Abe, noted Tobias Harris, an expert on Japanese politics at consultancy Teneo.

Abe retained the services of his trusted associate Taro Aso as deputy prime minister and finance minister, as well as Yoshihide Suga as the powerful chief cabinet secretary.

The PM also kept key allies and aides within the cabinet and top layers of the party to shore up his position for the next two years.

The Abe government is poised to hike its consumption tax from eight percent to 10 percent on October 1, amid fears this could act as a brake on the world's third-largest economy.

He is also hoping to achieve his long-cherished ambition of amending Japan's post-war constitution to change the status of the country's Self Defense Forces.

Abe also kept LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, who has deep contacts in China, as Japan prepares for an expected state visit by Xi Jinping in 2020.

Among other key figures are former Olympic speed skater Seiko Hashimoto, who became the latest in a string of Olympic ministers ahead of the 2020 summer Games.

Hashimoto is one of just two women out of 19 in the new cabinet despite Abe's much-heralded "womenomics" program. His previous cabinet included just one woman.

Japan ranked 125th in the 2018 World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report in terms of women's political empowerment.

The other woman is Sanae Takaichi, appointed as interior minister. She is seen as a hard-right nationalist, who regularly visits the Yasukuni shrine housing war criminals that enrages South Korea and China.

During her previous stint as interior minister, she threatened to cut off TV news stations over perceived unfriendly coverage.

Editor's note: Story has been updated to reveal new cabinet lineup.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

65 Comments
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Koizumi's qualification being, obviously, that his daddy was a prime minister. Japanese politics is as big of a joke as the Japanese "justice" system.

20 ( +31 / -11 )

Oh no. His father was a PM that's the qualifying bar? The Shinz had a grandfather in cabinet guess it's a better pick than a 80 year old.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Quantity does not automatically mean quality. Even after Abe leaves office he is pulling the strings to be the man in charge even though he wont be!

9 ( +13 / -4 )

promising to reboot the economy and bolster the military, political sources and media said.

If I had to "reboot" my computer as many times as Abe has attempted to "reboot" the economy here, I would have thrown it out years ago and started with something new!

I wonder how in the world he will attempt to fix the economy here when he is using Betamax ideas in a digital world?

24 ( +26 / -2 )

Ccongratulations to PM Abe in November! An amazing achievement, showing persistence, strength and leadership. Other democraciies who always keep changing PM should learn from Japan.

As for Koizumi-san. Yes, he is very popular in Japan. But, he needs to serve an "apprenticeship" under PM Abe for 3 more years, when PM Abe has been in the job for 10 years. Only then is he ready to take the Prime Ministership.

-32 ( +7 / -39 )

Satcho alliance is alive well across three centuries.

Now that Choshu faction(Abe) has ruled Japan for the longest time, it is time for Satsuma faction(Koizumi) faction to rule Japan again.

Abe reasons this is hell of better than a rule by Ishiba, who is pledging to apologize to comfort women 100 times and bring a great shame to Japan.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Takeshi Iwaya, who upset some ruling LDP colleagues in June by smiling when he met his South Korean counterpart.

That was his biggest mistake was smiling and trying to be polite? I don't have a problem with bringing in someone younger and hopefully with different ideas. For the love of god, why can't this gov't get rid of Taro Aso! I cannot for the life of me understand how he keeps his position.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

 keep allies in key posts

Japanese politics can be summed up in the above short statement.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

As for Koizumi-san. Yes, he is very popular in Japan. But, he needs to serve an "apprenticeship" under PM Abe for 3 more years, when PM Abe has been in the job for 10 years. Only then is he ready to take the Prime Ministership.

Why is it unsurprising that a Japanese person needs to be told who to vote for and who to support as prime minister?

15 ( +17 / -2 )

I think too now that he has a baby and wife, Kozumi qualifies as a " responsible member of society" that the Abe team (and much of the electorate) regards an important qualification (sadly, but that is the reality with much of the society here I feel). I am pleased that younger generation is getting more opportunity to add their voice and thinking. Whether Kozumi takes advantage of this opportunity to change Japan remains to be seen. .

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Boy, talk about all hat and no cattle.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Sweet mother of Jesus, even communist China doesn't make nepotism so obvious. This Koizumi Jr looks like a person who is all smiles and gambaru in public, but probably has a foul temper behind closed doors. Sometimes you can tell by their looks. The tatemae doesn't fool me.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Seiko Hashimoto - former speed skater who was deputy minister of foreign affairs for a short term under Okada - distinguished herself with a greater lack of activity than her predecessors. With senior staff rotating out every 3 years, and a huge complement of temporary agency workers on one year contracts, nothing got done, and no-one wanted to be responsible for anything. J-Gov at its finest!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Ladies and gents, I give you japanese 'democracy' the fact that longevity without productivity is lauded is way past shocking now. Well, downwards we go.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

So because Abe is losing voters he is hiring popular people to make his ratings go up. What a farce. Koizumi should decline and do his own thing, but of course this is the only path for him to become a PM. what a sad state of affairs.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Kono, 56, who has a reputation as a maverick and is also often mentioned as a possible successor to Abe, would replace Takeshi Iwaya, who upset some ruling LDP colleagues in June by smiling when he met his South Korean counterpart.

Waoh, one losing his post for smiling when meeting someone.

The land where smiling can be a serious crime. No wonder, Japanese look so stressed and unhappy.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Best of wishes to Shinjiro.

His father was a great man and a great prime minister.

Contrary to those who would rather bury and deny it, his father made repeated apologies in the strongest of terms to the victims of Japan's Imperial aggressions before and during WW2. In the early 2000's Junichiro in fact visited the area near the Marco Polo bridge as well as the museum of the war of the Chinese people's resistance. He's also apologized in the strongest of terms to comfort women.

Shinjiro has big boots to fill.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

I don’t like his party but I think Shinjiro has shown himself to be a decent fellow and a hard worker for the people.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Nothing like the addition of a pretty man-boy to spruce up the cabinet. After Abe retires, he should take over management of Johnny's Jimusho and nurture male dance teams.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

FGS...what will it take to get us rid of the 80 year old gang of fossils ie Nikai, Aso et al...apparently nothing .TIJ. Jobs till the grave for LDP daimyos.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Nepotism is job #1

14 ( +15 / -1 )

environment minister post

Just asking but is this a poisoned chalice? Will he have to stand up and defend dumping radioactive water in the ocean?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Ganbare Japan!Today  07:21 am JST

Ccongratulations to PM Abe in November! An amazing achievement, showing persistence, strength and leadership.

Showing a lack of anyone willing to challenge him, more like. Which would actually be pretty easy. Shinjiro Koizumi could have beaten him in any of the LDP leadership elections if he'd stood, young or not.

As for Koizumi-san. Yes, he is very popular in Japan. But, he needs to serve an "apprenticeship" under PM Abe for 3 more years, when PM Abe has been in the job for 10 years

Yes, he can spend three years learning what not to do.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Looking from across the sea your governments are doing a lot worse than Japan. Are your opinions base on facts at all? Or is it just pure hate juice towards any moves by the Japanese government.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

Best wishes for Koizumi..

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Chip StarToday  06:55 am JST

Koizumi's qualification being, obviously, that his daddy was a prime minister. Japanese politics is as big of a joke as the Japanese "justice" system.

Not really sure why you are salty about this young up coming politician. If your only reason is because his father is a former prime minister, then your logic is the "joke." Having a father as prime minster is a plus, seeing and experiencing politics at early game to really understand it and having a former prime minister to consult. He was elected fairly by the public, just like any other lawmakers.

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

Having a father as prime minster is a plus, seeing and experiencing politics at early game to really understand it and having a former prime minister to consult.

Plus 1 on that. It's a no brainer.

He appears to have avoided the excesses of American royalty like Bush and Kennedy jnrs.

Master's degree from Columbia University in New York, researcher at Washington-based think tank, serving as his father's political secretary, it's a solid, international background. He looks like he could have been in a boy band, so'll be a hit with the old ladies who prop up the LDP; yet visits Yasukuni Shrine so'll be a hit with the old men too.

Good heavens, he even has a hafu wife to court the liberals.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Taro Kono has a really friendly face...it would be a bit refreshing to have him as a PM I guess...plus he seems a bit clumsy as well...remember that time he mistakenly participated in a women-only event and ended up being the only man there and he was wearing a pink tie and grinning in shame LOL

2 ( +4 / -2 )

this is it...it was quite hilarious xD

https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2165371/when-canada-hosted-first-ever-meeting-women-foreign

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The government of Japan has turned into "family business" only members club. Seriously if someone looks into every appointed member and their backgrounds the people will find 3 or 4 generations deep. The appointment of another family tied member leads to government corruption.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

He looks like he could have been in a boy band, so'll be a hit with the old ladies who prop up the LDP; yet visits Yasukuni Shrine so'll be a hit with the old men too.

Good heavens, he even has a hafu wife to court the liberals."

Indeed, he is a shoe in for future LDP leader and probably a PM.

Given what else is available in LDP as possible PM material , Suga, Kishida and the rest of the faction oyaji poster boys....he would be the best option.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If this is not like feodal ages, I don't know then what it is.

No Japanese to go to demo tells everything.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@Jonathan Prin, now that you mention it unlike the west, I do not see

Japanese comedians satirizing their politicians... does anyone know why is that?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Only a single woman in the cabinet, not good.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@oldman_13. Hear Hear.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Almost every "rising star" in J politics gets involved in a scandal of some kind or another. I'm just waiting on Koizumi Jr.'s.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

North Koreans - Dynasty.

Japanese. - Dynasties

But lets exalt in those others short comings, even expose them ,and , not talk about our own, we have more " choice " hence " Democratic ".

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The spectacular appointment as environment minister of Shinjiro Koizumi

Japan oligarchy at its best. The dude doesn't have the required expertise and knowledge on environmental issues to even remotely qualify for this job. Just none.

He is being brought in just because Abe and him had a little chat and came to an agreement about how they should play the game behind the doors without interfering at each other. He is as incompetent as his father was, who by the way made catastrophic reforms. The one which is still stuck in my throat is how he ruined even more the Japanese public universities by changing them to have a corporate structure rather than an academic one. This caused thousands of young Ph.D graduates (including me) to be employed for years in low paid, short term contracts.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Other democraciies who always keep changing PM should learn from Japan.

What a silly remark. What other democracies are you talking about? Most of them do not change prime ministers often and Japan is certainly not foreign in changing prime ministers often in his history. So Japan is the last country to have any credibility giving lessons on that matter to others.

And you seem to think that Japan is a democracy. It isn't. Having basically a single party regime, an oligarchy in power practically without interruption for more than 70 years is not a democracy.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

70% of Japan's politicians are the sons or grandsons of former politicians, and most of them were descended from the pre-war aristocracy. It just goes to show how shallow the understanding of democracy here by the man in the street actually is.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

"I do not see Japanese comedians satirizing their politicians... does anyone know why is that?" The easy answer is that the Japanese have no sense of irony, but it's probably because not so long ago you could have lost your head for it. Literally.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I do not see Japanese comedians satirizing their politicians... does anyone know why is that?

You are making a fundamentally wrong assumption. That is, you assume that Japan is a free country. It isn't in many regards, specially when it comes to question, criticize or make fun of the established order.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Joe YanToday  10:37 am JST

He was elected fairly by the public, just like any other lawmakers.

No, as a fourth generation Diet member he had the election handed to him on a silver platter thanks to his family name and the money and votes gathering machine he inherited.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The conception of democracy seems twisted over there in Japan.

A true free democracy will allow each of it’s sons or daughters to have a chance to reach the top positions.

Especially in politics,a true democracy means alternate the two main opposite parties that in time to time will switch and govern the country.

Japan seems to luck or to comprehend the basics of democracy.

But the majority of people prefer sheeply follow the old order.

To have the son of a prime minister or the relative of another former minister is called nepotism.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Educator, I have mixed feelings on how to react to this third Koizumi.

If we look at it from the distance, this is a rather simple story for some series. Silver Lion's son is now a valued apprentice of a political rival, who is nothing like his dad. He is now pursuing the political career under the wing of the LeaDing Party, which is rife with scandals and questionable moves against the nation's well-being. Can Shinjirou Koizumi-san live through the rigid world of Japanese politics and still be worthy of his father's ideals? Will he live with them in heart, or will he become corrupted by the puppeteer his father once fought on political stage, with the whole world as witnesses? To be continued...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Contrary to those who would rather bury and deny it, his father made repeated apologies in the strongest of terms to the victims of Japan's Imperial aggressions before and during WW2. In the early 2000's Junichiro in fact visited the area near the Marco Polo bridge as well as the museum of the war of the Chinese people's resistance. He's also apologized in the strongest of terms to comfort women.

And after each strong apology, he visited Yasukuni.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Having a father as prime minster is a plus, seeing and experiencing politics at early game to really understand it and having a former prime minister to consult.

Plus 1 on that. It's a no brainer.

And then you realize things are stagnant in Japan and fresh ideas are essential.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

William77Today  04:24 pm JST

A true free democracy will allow each of it’s sons or daughters to have a chance to reach the top positions.

They do have a chance. Just not a very good one.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Simon FostonToday 04:24 pm JST

Joe YanToday  10:37 am JST

He was elected fairly by the public, just like any other lawmakers.

No, as a fourth generation Diet member he had the election handed to him on a silver platter thanks to his family name and the money and votes gathering machine he inherited.

Exactly.

He came in as a complete novice - which in of itself is not rare - but that he was placed in position and supported by the machinations of Koizumi Inc, without doing a stitch is unremarkable in the least. And even more grating is the fact that Koizumi snr often ranted on about the unfairness of handing down positions of power as if they were "Titles" like the British peerage.

Spoonerism at it's finest.

And Cronyism at it's finest with appointments such as Buddy - Buddy Koichi Haguida as Education Minister, when it was his direct influence including over the education officials, that allowed Abe's other Buddy - Buddy Kake to be fast tracted to build the Kake Gakuen. Scandal in Education is rewarded by the Top position in education. Nice.

And Sexism at it's finest. 2 women in the cabinet - 1 a tack-on for the face of the olympics and the other a hard nut rightist. Where's Abe's "All women can Shine"?

Obviously #metoo means to Abe, well, yes....Metoo.

But I assume once again, the public, ignorant or indifferent to it all, will simply lap it up with pearls of wisdom like "Well it's better than the others".

Groan.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Instead of focusing on what prime minister’s son he is bringing in, they should focus on the fact that his initiative to bring more women in has done the complete opposite. Where after he went to bring the most women in, the next reshuffling he kicked almost all of them out.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I wonder how in the world he will attempt to fix the economy here 

Raise the consumption tax! LOL

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Political dynasties are banana republic crap.

Stop this nonsense.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Rising star? Is that what nepotism is called these days? What a joke!!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Koizumi is just played by Shinzō. He made him a minister of environment so now they have green light to deal with Fukushima water and then get rid of Koizumi blaming him.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Its the Nippon Kaigi at work and these guys rule the country from behind the scenes. Both Abe and Koizumi senior have been the leaders of that group, how else would Koizumi become a Prime Minister and he was single, this never happened in the history of Japan. The NK is super powerful and rules the country and most people don't even know about it. The appointment of Koizumis son to the post of Environmental Minister is not surprising, they need someone strong to make the decisions to dump the nuclear waste from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean..... Jr will kick ass and he has nothing to lose! Japanese politics are a farce and one should not get too involved in what is seen in the media, its all a play, behind the scenes they are making the real decisions, the rest is just Wag the Dog...

9 ( +9 / -0 )

What rising star ? Purely cronyism, feudalism, tribalism, oligarchy in democratic skin.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Koizumi's qualification being, obviously, that his daddy was a prime minister. Japanese politics is as big of a joke as the Japanese "justice" system.

@Chip Star, yes, a page out of the US one.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

It’s a joke!

Japan’s politicos can’t even support Cool Biz!

Just look at the photo!

What change is there to be had in Japan?

None!

Uneducated cronies jostling for position-the only things missing are the samurai swords...,,

4 ( +5 / -1 )

his daddy being Junichiro Koizumi, his future was cooked up since the beginning. one word: boring.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Spoonerism at it's finest

This is brilliant. I hope you don't mind that I'm going to start using it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What rising star ? Purely cronyism, feudalism, tribalism, oligarchy in democratic skin.

At least Jaaoan has a semblance of democracy, unlike China.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Silver spoon much?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hear Abe was reluctant first. His father is advocating removal of all nuclear power plants from Japan. Abe is different, he wants to keep them. Will Shinjiro move against the will of Abe? No, he will not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Koizumi get a free pass because of his father good thing I suppose because he really suxs at acting that Hazuki Loppi commercial is the pits...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese political system is a right wing neoconservative monarchy masquerading as democracy

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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