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TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet on Tuesday in an effort to maintain government stability and policy continuity while pursuing his long-term goal of constitution revision and preparing for the upcoming Upper House election next year.
According to the 19-member list announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the prime minister reappointed six current Cabinet members, including Suga, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, and Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
In an effort to keep policy continuity, Abe also retained Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko and Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi.
Seko also continues to double as Minister for Economic Cooperation with Russia while Motegi has been entrusted with the task of bilateral trade talks between the United States and Japan.
To maintain relationship with the Komeito party, the LDP"s junior coalition partner, Abe reappointed Keiichi Ishii as Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
Among key ministerial portfolios, only Itsunori Onodera, defense minister since August 2017, was replaced, as Takeshi Iwaya, 61, an eight-term House of Representatives member who had short stints in roles including vice minister for defence and foreign affairs, was appointed as new Defense Minister.
Former Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto, known as a long-time ally of Abe, returned to the Cabinet as Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. Masahiko Shibayama, who has served as a special advisor to Abe in the LDP, was appointed the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
The number of female members in the prime minister"s Cabinet was reduced from two to one, as House of Councillors member Satsuki Katayama is the only woman in the new Cabinet and was appointed Minister of State for Regional Revitalization.
Former farm minister Ken Saito, who backed Shigeru Ishiba in the recent ruling party leadership race, was ousted, but House of Representatives member Takashi Yamashita, who is also from Ishiba"s faction, was appointed Minister of Justice.
The opposition parties, meanwhile, denounced the reshuffle as an attempt by Abe to reward old friends and allies for their support in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)"s leadership race held on Sept. 20, in which Abe beat his sole rival, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, and won a third consecutive term as president of the LDP.
"The LDP has gone back to their old ways of rewarding loyalty with favors," said Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary general of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, criticized Abe"s decision to retain Aso, a key Abe ally, despite a series of document tampering and sexual harassment scandals at the Finance Ministry.
"Aso keeping the current portfolio is a declaration that he won"t take responsibility (for the scandals)," he said, adding that the opposition parties would continue to pursue the issue in the Diet.
Earlier on Tuesday, Abe also revamped the LDP leadership. Toshihiro Nikai was retained by Abe as secretary general, the second highest post in the party, and Fumio Kishida was retained as policy chief. Former economy minister Akira Amari was named as head of the LDP"s Election Strategy Committee ahead of the upper house election next year.
Katsunobu Kato, who served as welfare minister, was named by Abe as chairman of the party"s decision-making General Council, and former education minister Hakubun Shimomura, was picked as head of the party"s panel on constitutional revision.
The changes were interpreted as a show of Abe"s determination to push forward his long-cherished goal of revising the nation"s pacifist Constitution, as both Shimomura and Kato are known to be close aides of Abe.
At a press conference later in the day, Abe reiterated calls for the the LDP to submit its constitutional amendment proposals to the extraordinary Diet session to be convened later this month.
"Without presenting concrete articles, we will not be able to gain support from Komeito and the public," he said.lgbt wristbands ukwristband size guideevent bracelets wristbandspersonality bracelets and charmsimages of rubber band bracelets