JAPAN, AUGUST 3, 2017 – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet on Thursday, adding party veterans in a bid to restore his battered popularity.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who retained his post, announced the new lineup.
Abe’s approval ratings have suffered from scandals over alleged cronyism and other abuses and objections to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s tendency to force unpopular legislation through parliament.
According to Reuters, the shakeup reflects Abe’s recognition that despite the Liberal Democrats’ overwhelming majority in parliament, his own once seemingly invincible position may be imperiled.
But plans for the reshuffle were disclosed weeks in advance, and it was not expected to have a major impact on the foreign policy or economy of America’s biggest ally in Asia.
The newly named ministers include many Cabinet veterans, including Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister who again was named to that post.
Last week, Abe protege Tomomi Inada stepped down as defense minister after the disclosure that the ministry hid information about risks faced by Japanese peacekeeping troops in South Sudan.
Abe also re-appointed Taro Aso as finance minister and deputy prime minister. Aso has held both positions since Abe came to power in late 2012.
Abe also re-appointed Hiroshige Seko as trade minister, and Taro Kono as foreign minister, the Reuters report said.
Japan’s stock market initially shrugged off the changes, most of which were initially disclosed Wednesday.