TOKYO, 4th August, 2017 — Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is set to reshuffle his cabinet today, amid a plunge in public support for his government following a series of scandals.
Abe is expected to appoint Taro Kono, a former administrative reform minister, as Foreign Minister. Fumio Kishida, the current Foreign Minister, is set to become chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s policymaking body, local media reported.
According to reports from Deutsche Presse-Agentur, DPA, the premier is expected to retain some key cabinet members, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
The reshuffle comes less than a week after Tomomi Inada was forced to step down as Defence Minister over an alleged cover-up of military reports on Japanese troops deployed in South Sudan as UN peacekeepers.
The DPA added that Abe himself has come under fire after a former education ministry official revealed that the premier’s office had pressured the ministry to push ahead with a heavily subsidized university project involving a long-time friend of Abe’s.
Public support for Abe’s cabinet has plunged to its lowest level since he took office in December 2012. A poll conducted in early July by Jiji Press gave him an approval rating of just 29.9 percent. The sharp fall from 45.1 percent in June came after Abe’s LDP suffered a historic defeat in the Tokyo assembly race on 2nd July.
Abe vowed to reinvigorate the world’s third-largest economy when he came to power four and a half years ago. However, his government has failed to shake off deflation and reboot long-term economic growth, with wages stagnant and consumer spending sluggish.