Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga poses with his cabinet after being formally inaugurated in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Wednesday night. Photo: KYODO
politics

Suga elected prime minister by Diet; new cabinet contains just 2 women

55 Comments

Yoshihide Suga took office as Japan's first new prime minister in nearly eight years on Wednesday, forming a Cabinet of familiar faces as he pledges to stay the course set by his predecessor Shinzo Abe.

For Suga, known as a skilled backroom operator, the immediate focus will be reviving the battered economy while keeping the coronavirus under control. Longer-term challenges include the country's falling birth rate and simmering tensions with Asian neighbors.

Suga, who became leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party earlier this week, has said he is committed to advancing Abe's policies including "Abenomics," a mix of measures aimed at beating deflation and spurring growth in the world's third-largest economy.

The 71-year-old farmer's son, who unlike Abe and many other lawmakers in Japan is not the scion of a political dynasty, has hinted at the possibility of additional steps to shore up the economy.

This would come on top of a 230 trillion yen ($2.2 trillion) package the government has already set out for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak, including subsidies for beleaguered businesses and promotion of domestic tourism.

He will also take over a sweeping review of Japan's national security policy that was initiated by Abe after plans to introduce a U.S.-developed missile defense system were scrapped due to technical issues.

Health minister Katsunobu Kato was chosen to succeed Suga as Chief Cabinet Secretary, a key post that serves as both a policy coordinator and the government's top spokesman.

Outgoing Defense Minister Taro Kono was tapped for minister in charge of administrative reform, an area Suga has promised to focus on to reduce bureaucratic sectionalism.

Underscoring Suga's pledge of continuity with Abe, the cabinet saw eight members retained in the same post including Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who heads the government's coronavirus response.

Seven were either shifted to other portfolios or returned to ministerial positions they had held in the past, while five were given their first cabinet posts, including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe's younger brother.

The average age of the cabinet is 60.4, with Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi the only one younger than 50. There are only two women, Olympics and Paralympics minister Seiko Hashimoto and Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa.

The appointments were spread across the LDP's seven major factions, including the two led by Suga's rivals in the party's presidential election on Monday, former LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba.

byebye.jpg
Outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves to staff as he leaves the prime minister's office Wednesday. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko

Abe's cabinet resigned en masse Wednesday morning, drawing an end to the premier's record-long tenure of seven years and eight months. He announced in late August he would step down to receive treatment for a chronic bowel disease that had left him fatigued and unsure of his ability to lead the country.

"I have spent every day putting my all into economic recovery and diplomacy to protect Japan's interests," Abe told reporters at the prime minister's office. "It is my honor to have been able to work on a range of issues along with the people during this time. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart."

The Diet convened an extraordinary session in the afternoon to elect his successor, with Suga's victory a foregone conclusion as the ruling coalition of the LDP and junior partner Komeito has a majority in both chambers. He received 314 votes in the 465-member House of Representatives and 142 votes in the 245-member House of Councillors.

After announcing the members of his cabinet, Suga was formally inaugurated in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace. His tenure will last through the remainder of Abe's term as LDP leader until September 2021.

Suga is slated to hold his first press conference as prime minister in the evening, with all eyes on whether he will hint at dissolving the lower house and calling a snap election.

At 71 years and 9 months, Suga is the oldest prime minister to take office since Kiichi Miyazawa in 1991, a fact belied by his notorious work ethic. Suga says he keeps fit by taking 40-minute walks and doing 100 sit-ups every morning.

Aside from tackling the short-term economic damage that the coronavirus has caused by forcing people to stay home and wiping out tourism from overseas virtually overnight, Suga will be tasked with stemming the country's falling birth rate and improving its dismal fiscal health.

The consumption tax will eventually need to be raised from the current 10 percent to cover swelling social security costs, Suga has said, though not for the next decade or so.

On the foreign policy front, Suga will need to maintain a careful balance between the United States, Japan's principle security ally, and neighboring economic powerhouse China.

He has promised to continue working toward securing the return of Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, and to hold negotiations with Russia to resolve a territorial dispute to clear the way for a long-awaited postwar peace treaty.

Suga also looks to continue efforts to amend the postwar Constitution by adding an explicit reference to the Self-Defense Forces to the war-renouncing Article 9, a goal Abe vigorously pursued but ultimately failed to achieve.

Cabinet members

Prime Minister: Yoshihide Suga, age 71

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister: Taro Aso 79 (R)

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister: Ryota Takeda 52

Justice Minister: Yoko Kamikawa 67 (F)

Foreign Minister: Toshimitsu Motegi 64 (R)

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister: Koichi Hagiuda 57 (R)

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister: Norihisa Tamura 55

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister: Kotaro Nogami 53

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister: Hiroshi Kajiyama 64 (R)

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister: Kazuyoshi Akaba 62 (R)

Environment Minister: Shinjiro Koizumi 39 (R)

Defense Minister: Nobuo Kishi 61

Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister in charge of the abduction issue: Katsunobu Kato 64

Reconstruction Minister: Katsuei Hirasawa 75

Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and Minister in charge of disaster management: Hachiro Okonogi 55

Minister for promoting dynamic engagement of all citizens, regional revitalization and in charge of measures for declining birthrate: Tetsushi Sakamoto 69

Minister in charge of economic revitalization, measures for the novel coronavirus pandemic: Yasutoshi Nishimura 57 (R)

Minister in charge of administrative reform and regulatory reform: Taro Kono 57

Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, women's empowerment and gender equality: Seiko Hashimoto 55 (F)(R)

Minister for the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka and consumer administration: Shinji Inoue 50

Minister in charge of digital reform, social security and tax number system: Takuya Hirai 62

NOTES: Akaba is a member of the Komeito party. The others are from the Liberal Democratic Party.

(F) denotes female ministers.

(R) denotes cabinet members who retained their current posts.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

55 Comments
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I'm so glad Kono got another demotion. The guy just rubs me up the wrong way since he got any responsibility in government. Japanese businesses got attacked and ransacked whilst he was foreign minister, nothing. Then the disaster ie AEGIS, handing Japanese democracy to foreign powers (ie those that has their finger on the missile launch button).

But the worst of his misdeed is the proposal revert to pre-Meiji name convention. The naming convention was one of many conventions introduced by emperor Meiji for the good of Japan, and Kono just waltzed in and tell us all to 'look at China, they never changed'. Sigh...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The ageism and misandry in the comments today are appalling- yet completely predictable. Suga won - get over it already

Couldn't have said it better myself. It looks to me like pretty close to perfect democracy at work, but at the same time, some people would rather pursue 'other' agendas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not a single person under 50 and only two women. That is actually a pretty young and diverse cabinet by LDP standards I guess.

Eh? Koizumi...and he retained his ministry too. I like what he represents, old blood, young vigour and direction.

So Takeda is now Kono's boss :-). Takeda being a member of Nippon Kaigi is a fitting boss to Kono whose family has a public record of 'China appeasement'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Damn. By the looks of that photo, average age must be 235.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They need more women. Different perspectives.

This stale nonsense isn’t working:

*five were given their first cabinet posts, including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe's younger brother.*

Look into Nobuo’s maternal grandfather. He was a prime minister after he was released from prison.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One more LDP oyaji

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think we do have to give Japan some credit. It's a nation that is diligent about recycling.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

dear's Congratulations To The Greatest japan country hon'ble Great New prime minister and hon'ble his To The New Great cabinet leader's.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

90% of the above ministers should be put out to pasture let allow hold an office position, Japan really does need some young blood in the cabinet. so what is going to change? nothing probably.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Same old, same old (men). And only two women.

Awful! Again and again, seeing lots of sinister old men is enough is enough! I feel like watching an old yakuza movie. Japan needs change seriously. But all I can see is complete regression.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

With regard to age . . . new ideas come from people's minds who have studied, and kept up with historical past and present philosophies, including science.  New ideas have little to do with a person's biological age, that is why in countries like US it is against the law to discriminate based on a person's age (a law which many seniors take under consideration).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

during the live telecast of the proceedings, when it was announced koizumi received 1 vote as prime minister, the whole chamber erupted into laughter. it trended online immediately.

Thats awesome considering that Koizumi wasn't in the running...lol wonder who the joker voter was...or maybe just one of the fossils was just too asleep when voting .

Bjorn Tomention - and still the hypocrites unabashedly continue with their onslaught 

Haha..that's too funny from someone who changes to a different name each month after getting banned for the nonspeakingwisdom " onslaught ", lol.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

new cabinet contains just 2 women

Well the first and most important response is: The most qualified person should be hired / assigned

But secondly, 2 out of 21 is about 9.5 percent. The current percent of female representatives is around 22%. I wonder if people would be happy with a total of 4 women in his cabinet. Is gender relevant to job performance as a cabinet member?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

during the live telecast of the proceedings, when it was announced koizumi received 1 vote as prime minister, the whole chamber erupted into laughter. it trended online immediately.

Don't laugh too hard. Koizumi is young, has name recognition, and great hair. He's the Justin Trudeau of Japanese politics.

Despite a lack of qualifications, experience or competence, he mindlessly mouths the cancerous platitudes progressives in the west love to hear. There will be a mighty push sooner or later to elevate him to the top job.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

and still the hypocrites unabashedly continue with their onslaught with out even considering the ridiculousness of their comments, the ageist sexist comments just do not stop form those who lack maturity experience common sense and the ability to understand that youth is not always the answer to every situation.

That is the thing, Youth is wasted on the young, simply because they lack the ability to understand the whole situation and the ability to see things that only age can show some one. But never mind let the young ones continue with their incessant rants and whines while those who know continue to get on with it.

None the less we know they think their should be more unqualified woman and less older people running things, its obvious.

Oh look theres a woman over there lets put her in govt simply , well because she is a woman. Righto them makes perfect sense doesnt it ?

While the young bash the old because they are well, older, thats is sexism and ageism, isnt it?

HYPER CRITTERS = hypocrites

Or show me how bashing one group is different from bashing another group by identity PLEASE !

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Only two women have been contained?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

 Suga's victory a foregone conclusion as the ruling coalition of the LDP and junior partner Komeito has a majority in both chambers. He received 314 votes in the 465-member House of Representatives and 142 votes in the 245-member House of Councillors.

Environment Minister: Shinjiro Koizumi 39 (R)

This is promising. I suppose Suga had to pick those guys as the condition for him to become PM. There was no leeway.

during the live telecast of the proceedings, when it was announced koizumi received 1 vote as prime minister, the whole chamber erupted into laughter. it trended online immediately.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Maturity, wisdom, experience! In troubled times like we are experiencing today, Japan is fortunate to have so many seniors in charge. The younger leaders are still too foolish and inexperienced. They'd take risks and make too many unnecessary and hasty changes. Right now, its best that the old guard take firm control and not make a single move.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

new cabinet contains just 2 women

So, what's new?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bad balance.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Very sad day!

And still people saying women are note ready to qualify.

Very sad day!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japanese ambition women should consider their gender identity in exchange for their careers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Forcing women to take government jobs is stupid.

Abe tried to get more women involved. Promoted them, hired them, 2 of them quit several months later.

Hiring women who are not ready not qualified, not interested in politics is counterproductive and stupid.

Your fetish and fantasy of more women no matter what, more women even if she's not qualified, even if she doesnt want the job. More women! The PC Police demands so.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Nothing changes in Japan

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The ageism and misandry in the comments today are appalling- yet completely predictable. Suga won - get over it already. The sun, and the nations debt, will rise in the morning just like it always does. It is what it is. Japan is a democracy. Seeing expats and foreigners relentlessly bashing Japan for not being as woke as they are is more than a little ridiculous.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Suga has promised to focus on to reduce bureaucratic sectionalism.

How about reducing LDP faction sectionalism.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe in 20 years there will be a person with female genitalia around 40 to 50 who will be shepherded in by these hereditary party insiders to enact legislation to ensure the LDP and their Japan Inc. cronies stay in power and accrue more wealth.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Meet the new boss...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ten under 60! A new record? Wonderful Japanese politicians!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

To be honest, that is 2 more women than I expected.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Eternal sequel of Jurassic park with dinosaurs everywhere.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

One of the many beautiful things about Japan is its disregard for western sjws and their cancerous identity politics.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Japan's electoral system is flawed, so untill there is any change expect dinosaurs to be given positions of power with no idea what to do. That's the way to demote a No2 economy to No3 and dropping. Utter madness unfolding before us., can't believe people are not angry we do pay thier exobantly stupid wages after all. It's a country full of nice people but helpless in the face of corruption. Don't usually pray myself but I do pray now, Lets see how that works out, sadly I'm not holding my breath.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Minister in charge of digital reform: 62 year old.

I see...

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This grandpa collection is providing the world with the laughs it needs in this coronovirus world...thanks for the entertainment LDP, you manage to make even the Chinese leadership appear vibrant and youthful in comparison to this retiree club. Well done.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Only two women and only one member below 50 years old.

Innovation is something one can not expect.

Same old - literally. Fax machines are here to stay.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

TokyoJoeToday 04:49 pm JST

Taking into account gender during the hiring process is the definition of sexism.

Taking into account age during the hiring process is the definition of age ism.

But there are a bunch of young people who will apply one principal when it suits them and disregard the same principle when it doesnt suit them, Hypocrites !!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

rainyday:

Not a single person under 50 and only two women.

There's Koizumi Junior. You know, the guy who is where he is because of nepotism.

Does anyone remember the days when the Japanese leaders would be old men, and American leaders would be a generation younger? Now, it's old men everywhere.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Environment Minister: Shinjiro Koizumi 39 (R)

This is promising. I suppose Suga had to pick those guys as the condition for him to become PM. There was no leeway.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

‘Come on, grandpa

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Suga elected prime minister by Diet; new cabinet contains just 2 women,

Enough to pour the tea.

I know not particularly objective, principally not a fan tokenism.

.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Like Abe, Suga is also a member of Nippon Kaigi. Who want a shinto state and loyalty to the flag.

Wonder what willl change for Japan. Hopefully Suga isn’t a ultra nationalist like Abe is

Take a look at the membership of the right-wing Nippon Kaigi. It is frightening. Prime minister, head judge of the supreme court, chairmen of Wacoal and IHI etc.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This guy has about him the Charisma of an old cleaning cloth. No soul and dead inside ...

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Wonder what willl change for Japan. Hopefully Suga isn’t a ultra nationalist like Abe is.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Another old DINOSAUR , simply ridiculous if it would't be SO SAD !

8 ( +10 / -2 )

judging by the pomp and circumstance over the past week you would think suga had just won the mandate of the people in a sweeping election victory rather than failing upwards into the position of being a temporary placeholder for the next government foisted with abe's mess

i give him less than a year tops...

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Is anyone surprised? In Suga's mind, women are good as baby-making machines and for serving tea to the men in parliament, who of course are incredibly important and useful sitting in the DIET. Did someone seriously think that would change by inviting in a man who is 73 and can't even pull up his own pants without Abe standing behind him to help?

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Oh yeah forgot about the other woman...

Justice Minister: Yoko Kamikawa 67 (F)

She's a great lady!

During her time in office, Kamikawa ordered sixteen executions, the highest among justice ministers since 1993.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%8Dko_Kamikawa

Taro Aso looks like Yoda he is that old

So does Suga!

The future is so bright with this sparkling new administration!! Sigh...

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Taking into account gender during the hiring process is the definition of sexism.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Owarida! Roujinhomes!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Taro Aso looks like Yoda he is that old

11 ( +12 / -1 )

What a youthful line-up, looking forward to their fresh new ideas!

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Of the 2 female members, 1 is the female post for women's empowerment and gender equality.....

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Not a single person under 50 and only two women. That is actually a pretty young and diverse cabinet by LDP standards I guess.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

The Old Guard with maturity wisdom and experience set to guide Japan through trying and difficult times .

Now lets see the down votes and negative comments haha

-18 ( +7 / -25 )

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