Japan’s Shinzo Abe yesterday appointed new foreign and defence ministers and promoted a popular rising political star, in a cabinet reshuffle that fuelled speculation over the prime minister’s successor.
The spectacular appointment as environment minister of the telegenic Shinjiro Koizumi, the 38-year-old son of much-loved former PM Junichiro, set tongues wagging in Tokyo political classes as the Abe era draws to a close.
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.
Abe reiterated his long-cherished ambition of amending Japan’s post-war constitution to change the status of the country’s Self Defense Forces.
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, which he will continue.
Outgoing foreign minister Taro Kono was shifted to the defence portfolio.
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.