Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering retaining Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, Kyodo news agency reported on the eve of an expected cabinet reshuffle, making major changes in the ministerial line-up unlikely.
Recent opinion polls show Kishida, who became prime minister less than two years ago, scoring lower approval than disapproval ratings, and he has said he plans to reshuffle his cabinet and make changes in the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as early as Wednesday. Earlier, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that Kishida had decided to keep Hirokazu Matsuno in his current post as chief cabinet secretary, a key position that coordinates policy among ministries and acts as the top government spokesperson.
Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, two prime ministers before Kishida, both served as chief cabinet secretary before becoming premier. Kishida appointed Suzuki as finance minister when he formed his first cabinet in October 2021. Continuity at the finance ministry would underscore his administration’s focus on keeping sharp yen falls in check, and compiling a fresh package of measures to cushion the blow from rising living costs.
Suzuki issued verbal warnings to the currency market over exchange rate volatility, as the yen hit a 10-month low against the dollar last week. Nishimura’s time in charge of Japan’s trade, industry and energy policy has coincided with tense bilateral ties with China following the decision to release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.