Sun. Jan 26th, 2020

Shinzo Abe reshapes his Government and replaces his Foreign Minister

The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, today made a large remodeling of his cabinet, which highlights the departure of Taro Kono as Foreign Minister and his transfer to the Defense portfolio.

Abe already renewed his Government almost completely less than a year ago, on October 2. This Wednesday is the sixth government remodeling of Abe since his current term began in December 2012.

With today's changes, Abe incorporates 13 people who had never before occupied a portfolio. Of the 19 ministers, only two remain in the same position.

Kono, 56, who had two as Foreign Minister, went on to occupy the Defense portfolio, replacing Takeshi Iwaya, who took over that ministry in the remodeling last year and is now out of government.

Toshimitsu Motegi, 63, was the head of diplomacy, who previously held the portfolio of Economic Revitalization.

Motegi had a key role in the Japan negotiations to reach the Comprehensive and Progressive Transpacific Association Treaty (CPTPP), better known as TPP11 and which entered into force on December 30, 2018.

Two key figures remain on Abe's team: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Taro Aso, 78, and Chief of Staff and spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga, 70. Both Aso and Suga accompany Shinzo Abe in those wallets since 2012.

It was Suga who announced the new list of the Government in a brief appearance before the journalists, before the new ministers swear in their office and participate hours later in the first meeting of the Government.

In the new Abe cabinet there are only two women, one more than in the outgoing Government: Sanae Takaichi, in the Administration and Interior portfolio, and Seiko Hashimoto, a skating medalist who will be the highest government responsible for the 2020 Olympic Games .

The youngest member is Shinjiro Koizumi, 38, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who will be in charge of the Environment portfolio.

The previous head of that portfolio, Yoshiaki Harada, said goodbye to the government on Tuesday with controversial statements saying that Japan's only option to get rid of water contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is to throw it into the sea.

The most important political objective that Abe has in the medium term is the reform of the Constitution to change its pacifist character, but it does not have enough votes in the Diet for the reform to pass the parliamentary process.

On the economic level, Japan is days before a new VAT rate will come into effect on October 1, which will go from 8 to 10%. The authorities are aware that this increase will generate a decrease in consumption that will be noticed in the remainder of the year.

Shizo Abe began his current term on December 26, 2012, although he was previously in charge of the Government between 2006 and 2007.

Abe's current term will end in 2021 and, if he completes it (specifically if he remains in office until November 20 of this year), he will become the prime minister with the longest term in the country's history.

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