Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida leaves after a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on Nov 19. Photo: AP
politics

String of ministerial changes may prod Kishida to reshuffle cabinet

22 Comments
By Satoshi Iizuka

A close aid of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was sacked as a minister amid a political funds-related scandal, becoming the third member to leave his cabinet in less than a month, in a heavy blow to his already fragile government.

With his power base weakening, speculation has been growing that by the end of this year, Kishida, whose approval ratings have been struggling, may carry out a second cabinet reshuffle since he took office in October 2021 in the hope of propping up public support.

Some pundits have also said Kishida could even dissolve the lower house for an election in a desperate bid to break the impasse as public support for the opposition bloc has not risen. But his political gambles are unlikely to bear fruit.

In October, Minoru Terada, the then internal affairs minister who belongs to a faction led by Kishida within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, started to make the headlines of a weekly magazine as it revealed his improper handlings of political funds.

A series of reports released by the Shukan Bunshun magazine prompted calls for Terada's resignation from opposition parties seeing him as unfit to supervise laws related to election and political funds.

The magazine reported Terada paid around 40,000 yen as rewards to six local assembly members in his constituency in Hiroshima Prefecture for their support in his election campaign in October 2021. Such payments are prohibited by the public offices election law.

Kishida, head of the LDP, also represents a constituency in the western Japanese prefecture.

Prior to Terada's dismissal on Sunday, two other ministers resigned, sparking fears of a domino effect of successive resignations of cabinet members.

Daishiro Yamagiwa stepped down as economic revitalization minister in late October over his close ties with the Unification Church, founded by a staunch anti-communist in South Korea in 1954. The religious group is often characterized as a cult by critics.

Yasuhiro Hanashi, also a member of Kishida's intraparty group, resigned as justice minister earlier this month in the aftermath of mounting backlash against his gaffes including one regarded as making light of his role in authorizing executions of death-row inmates.

On Sunday, Kishida said he sacked Terada because he wants to "prioritize" delivering on his government's key policy goals.

During the ongoing extraordinary Diet session, Kishida has tried to enact an extra budget to fund an economic package to ease the negative impact of rising prices and relief laws for those financially afflicted by the Unification Church and other groups.

Opposition parties, however, are set to zero in on a fourth target -- reconstruction minister Kenya Akiba, who has been grilled over a separate political fund scandal -- leaving Kishida with the difficult task of proceeding with parliamentary deliberations through Dec. 10.

A senior LDP lawmaker of the House of Representatives said the succession of minister resignations and dismissals will push down public support ratings for Kishida's administration further, while negatively affecting parliamentary deliberations.

In recent months, approval ratings for Kishida's cabinet have been nearing what is widely seen as the "danger level" of 30 percent due largely to the relationship between certain LDP lawmakers and the Unification Church.

Hiroshi Shiratori, a political science professor at Hosei University, said "movements aimed at ousting" Kishida from power may happen, if some LDP members begin to think that they cannot win local assembly elections in April under the unpopular premier.

In early August, Kishida rushed to reshuffle his Cabinet with a view to reversing public support and excluding ministers having dubious ties with the Unification Church. The personnel change was initially expected to take place in September.

Less than four months after the cabinet reshuffle, Kishida has been compelled to make further changes to give a boost to his government.

In mid-November, Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, said in a TV program that Kishida has "no choice" but to reshuffle his Cabinet or dissolve the lower house to "achieve a breakthrough."

At a news conference in Bangkok on Saturday to conclude his Southeast Asian trip to attend international gatherings, which was overshadowed by the minister scandals, Kishida said only that he will decide on a cabinet reshuffle at an "appropriate time."

But it is uncertain whether a hasty reshuffle will boost Kishida, given that there are only a limited number of fresh faces who would contribute to buoying the popularity of his cabinet.

In light of an ability to answer questions in Diet sessions, Kishida appointed lawmakers with previous experience as a minister when he replaced the three who left his cabinet.

Kishida will also have trouble finding suitable ministerial candidates who have no links with the Unification Church, as an LDP internal investigation found around half of the party's lawmakers had some connection with the dubious religious group.

Tomoaki Iwai, a professor emeritus of political science at Nihon University, said another cabinet reshuffle would intensify conflict among LDP lawmakers, bringing about further confusion within the ruling party.

The LDP's major victory in the House of Councillors election on July 10 seemed to have given Kishida a firm government for what was dubbed his "golden three years" free of national elections unless he dissolved the House of Representatives.

Nevertheless, Kishida has been placed in such a predicament that he would be unable to maintain his power unless he dissolves the lower chamber of parliament before the opposition camp gets well prepared for an election, political experts said.

Hosei University's Shiratori said that if the LDP secures a victory, Kishida is sure to declare that the government led by his ruling party has won public confidence.

The professor, meanwhile, said that if voters believe that the lower house election is designed to "prolong the Kishida administration's life," his attempt to regain his power would end in failure.

© KYODO

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
Login to comment

During the ongoing extraordinary Diet session, Kishida has tried to enact an extra budget to fund an economic package to ease the negative impact of rising prices and relief laws for those financially afflicted by the Unification Church and other groups.

Shows you where the LDP priorities really are. Protecting themselves from more blowback and revelations of their cronyism as in the case of Yamagami.

More corporate welfare and socialism for the rich; plus this time for added flavor bailing out people brainwashed into giving their life savings to the Church with which LDP politicians have fostered quid pro quo ties for decades.

Selfish is too mild a word for it. Sociopathic would be more accurate and describes this ruling class that profits from centuries of hierarchical cultural rules.

1 ( +15 / -14 )

The deficiencies in the current system are legion-a total reset is needed!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

dagon

Today 07:11 am JST

Selfish is too mild a word for it. Sociopathic would be more accurate and describes this ruling class that profits from centuries of hierarchical cultural rules.

I like "parasitic," personally.

-2 ( +11 / -13 )

The magazine reported Terada paid around 40,000 yen as rewards to six local assembly members in his constituency in Hiroshima Prefecture for their support in his election campaign in October 2021. Such payments are prohibited by the public offices election law.

Just resigning from his post is not the end of this for him. Japanese do not take kindly to politicians paying people off, as in the past, they were literally buying votes from people and the laws they put into effect governing campaigns are strict.

One woman got nailed for giving away paper fans, I believe it was, and others went to jail too.

If this turns out to be true, he is going to face a trial, and possibly jail time. Doesnt mean his career as a politician is over though, as other Diet members were "rehabilitated" and came back, literally reelected, by their constituents because of the charisma and popularity.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Reshuffle is the right word. Assign the same set of imbeciles randomly to one of the spots they are completely unqualified for... Then expect a better outcome. Maybe they don't really expect a better outcome actually, as long as they enrich themselves and their top supporters.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

If this turns out to be true, he is going to face a trial, and possibly jail time.

Lol

literally reelected, by their constituents because of the charisma and popularity.

Lol lol.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

Well, past evidence suggests that shuffling the faces around and taking the pictures of the new cabinet all dressed up on the stairs does boost the support rate. I have no idea why the people don't reserve judgement until this cabinet shows its true colours but there seem to be a lot of people who are eternal optimists in Japan, or have an insatiable appetite for disappointment.

1 ( +13 / -12 )

Reshuffle is the right word. Assign the same set of imbeciles randomly to one of the spots they are completely unqualified for... Then expect a better outcome. Maybe they don't really expect a better outcome actually, as long as they enrich themselves and their top supporters.

J politics in a nutshell

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

Kishida is a ditherer who can't make decisions. He is not doing anything about inflation or wages that haven't gone up in 30 years. People are tired of being exploited.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

let the old jiji shuffle begin. It’s like the Yamanote line. Always going in a circle.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Kishida, whose approval ratings have been struggling, may carry out a second cabinet reshuffle since he took office in October 2021 in the hope of propping up public support."

Yep, move the same old dinosaurs around to different posts - surely ,it will make a huge difference this time.

Some pundits have also said Kishida could even dissolve the lower house for an election in a desperate bid to break the impasse as public support for the opposition bloc has not risen."

What do these genius "pundits"expect a snap election would achieve apart from wasting huge amount of our tax money on organizing just 12 months after the last one. How would that help LDP since they already have an overwhelming majority ( as usual , NK style ). Jiminto,s problems are internal.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Why? He’ll just reshuffle the same idiots into a different order. Health Minister will become Finance, Finance will become environment, Aso will put on his moronic purple fedora and do what he wants, and then we’ll start hearing about the scandals again.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

situation reminds me soviet politburo in eighties,when Brezhnev died and what followed...Japan need to learn from others and give chance to young blood with fresh ideas instead of old fashioned LDP dinosaurs!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Everyday I'm reshuffling...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan is completely destroyed by those politicians and their corruption.

Kishida just prints fake money and spends money for WAR preparation. his politic is based on US instruction.

the KAOS is at the end of the tunnel.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Kishida politics:

hobnob with world elites in 5 star hotels and resorts using his two private luxury jumbo jets. Even though he can’t understand what they are talking about, he also can’t understand what the vast majority of Japanese citizens are talking about.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

sparking fears of a domino effect of successive resignations of cabinet members.

More like a house of cards imploding than domino's.

Whilst kishiditha plays silly buggers and who's the king of the castle.

How could anyone possibly deny the magnificent slew of corruption scandals of the LDP government ?

Dissolve not reshuffle !

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

The professor, meanwhile, said that if voters believe that the lower house election is designed to "prolong the Kishida administration's life," his attempt to regain his power would end in failure.

What ? ? ?

Kishida is already a failure !

However the chain of events that have released all the worms out of the can since Abes assassination will hopefully benefit the Japanese public .

Or some of the worms anyway

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Well, LDP needs cleaning up, so why complain about corrupt politicians being sacked?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

FredrikToday  12:35 pm JST

they have been sacked because they were not enough corrupted for KISHIDA.

KISHIDA needs perfect kamikaze puppet for the circus.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

@Yubaru

One woman got nailed for giving away paper fans, I believe it was, and others went to jail too.

It was right-wing uber-nutter Takaichi Sanae. I thing she resigned and returned to the grey/black herd of parlamentarians before climbing the ladder in the LDP org-chart and be again part of multiple cabinets such as...the current Kishida one.

Japan politics just loves failed clowns...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

unable to maintain his power unless he dissolves the lower chamber of parliament before the opposition camp gets well prepared for an election, political experts said.

It’s amusing, this notion of needing to get well prepared for an election.

If any would be opposition parties are not always prepared to take the reins of power, then they frankly have no show of being any better than the inept LDP.

And frankly the voters are as inept at their responsibility as the politicians are, too.

In some respects this is a good thing, but alas the status quo has the government spending trillions of yen it doesn’t have, and this part of the status quo really needs to change.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites