Japan PM to reshuffle cabinet amid Taiwan, Unification Church issues

FILE PHOTO – Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York City, New York, US, Aug. 1, 2022. REUTERS/David ‘Dee’ Delgado

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  • Kishida said a cabinet reshuffle was needed to tackle Taiwan, COVID and inflation
  • Changes to be announced on Wednesday – Komeito leader
  • Kishida will order cabinet to investigate links between ministers and Unification Church

TOKYO, Aug. 6 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Saturday he will reshuffle his cabinet next week to address mounting problems, including tensions in Taiwan, COVID-19 and economic stimulus to curb inflation.

“We need to set up a new formation as soon as possible given the various problems,” he told a news conference in Hiroshima after attending a commemoration for the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb in the city. read more

The earlier-than-expected staff change comes as his government faces increasing public scrutiny over the relationship between the religious group Unification Church and the ruling party’s lawmakers, including assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Kishida’s ruling coalition partner, Komeito Party, said at a press conference on Saturday that Kishida had informed him that the cabinet reshuffle would be announced on Wednesday.

Kishida did not give details of his cabinet changes, but the Yomiuri daily reported that he is likely to replace Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, given his health problems.

Defense is in the spotlight and tensions between self-ruled Taiwan and mainland China have been mounting in recent days. read more

A recent increase in COVID to record infection numbers poses another problem for the government. read more

A reorganization of the cabinet and ruling party officials was planned for early September after a memorial service for Abe who was shot dead last month, but Kishida brought it forward to address declining approval for the cabinet in polls, the officials said. Yomiuri.

The reshuffle comes after Kishida’s conservative coalition government increased its majority in the upper house of parliament in a July election, two days after Abe’s death. read more

Kishi, 63, Abe’s younger brother, has been defense secretary since September 2020.

The Jiji news agency reported Friday that Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki would be retained and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda would be retained or moved to another key position.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, as well as reigning Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Vice President Taro Aso, and Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi are also likely to keep their positions, the Yomiuri also reported.

CHURCH UNIFICATION PROBE

Kishida was also asked during the press conference about the Unification Church, a religious group to which the mother of the man who shot Abe belonged, and which reportedly had particularly close ties to Abe’s faction of the LDP. read more

Kishida said he would order the cabinet to investigate all links between the church and cabinet members, including deputy ministers, and review them in “appropriate forms” to gain public understanding.

“As far as I know, I personally have no ties to the group,” he said.

In a July 30-31 poll by Kyodo news agency, more than 80% of respondents said the relationship between the Unification Church and politicians should be disclosed, and 53% opposed a state funeral for Abe. read more

The poll found support for Kishida’s cabinet, falling 12.2 points to 51.0%, the lowest in Kyodo polls since its inauguration in October.

Kishida said it was appropriate for the government to host a state funeral given Abe was modern Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and given the circumstances of his death during “the foundation of democracy”, referring to the election campaign.

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Reporting by Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Leslie Adler, Robert Birsel and Kim Coghill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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