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PM Abe keeps 6 key ministers in reshuffled Cabinet, appoints 12 newcomers

Members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new, fourth Cabinet pose for a photograph at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on the evening of Oct. 2, 2018. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe replaced all but six key members of his Cabinet in an Oct. 2 reshuffle, following his re-election to his third consecutive term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Among 19 Cabinet members named to join Abe's new, fourth Cabinet, 12 will be serving for the first time. He retained Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, 78; Foreign Minister Taro Kono, 55; Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, 55; Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii, 60; Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, 69; and Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi, 62. Suga will double as minister in charge of the abduction issue. One other member to join the line-up, newly named Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Takumi Nemoto, has previously served in a Cabinet post.

Prime Minister Abe selected the 12 new members from among those on a Cabinet place "waiting list." The prime minister's choices also showed consideration to intraparty factions that supported his leadership re-election bid.

Masatoshi Ishida, 66, former state minister of finance, was appointed as internal affairs and communications minister, while former state minister for foreign affairs Takeshi Iwaya, 61, took up the post of defense minister. Masahiko Shibayama, 52, chief deputy secretary-general of the LDP, became education, culture, sports, science and technology minister.

Abe appointed parliamentary vice justice minister Takashi Yamashita, 53, as justice minister -- a move intended to demonstrate intraparty reconciliation. Yamashita belongs to a faction led by LDP leadership challenger Shigeru Ishiba.

Takamori Yoshikawa, 67, former state minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, was named as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister; Hiromichi Watanabe, 68, former state minister of economy, trade and industry, as minister in charges of reconstruction of disaster-hit areas; and Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, former state minister of education, as minister in charge of the Olympics and Paralympics.

Former state minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism Takuya Hirai, 60, was given the position of minister in charge of science and technology, while LDP Policy Research Council deputy head Satsuki Katayama, 59, took up the post of minister in charge of regional revitalization and women's empowerment.

Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, 67, an adviser to the prime minister, became minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs and Junzo Yamamoto, 63, chairman of the House of Councillors Rules and Administration Committee, assumed the post of chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and minister for disaster management. The post of environment minister went to Yoshiaki Harada, 74, former state minister of education.

Former Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto, 67, joined the Cabinet again as health, labor and welfare minister.

Earlier in the day, Abe appointed a number of top LDP officials. The prime minister retained LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, 79, and Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, 61. He named Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato, 62, to head the party's decision-making General Council, and appointed former Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari, 69, who served as secretary-general of his campaign office in the party presidential election, to head the party's Election Strategy Headquarters.

Prime Minister Abe initially considered reappointing Kato as health minister. However, he decided instead to appoint him as chairman of the General Council to replace Wataru Takeshita, 71, who supported Abe's rival Shigeru Ishiba in the Sept. 20 party leadership election. Kato is a member of the intraparty faction led by Takeshita.

LDP Chief Deputy Secretary-General Shinjiro Koizumi, 37, who voted for Ishiba, a former secretary-general of the party, was being considered as the director of the party's health, labor and welfare division as of the morning of Oct. 2.

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