Abe Cabinet (As of December 24, 2014)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, State Minister for Financial Services, Overcoming Deflation Taro Aso
Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi
Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Koya Nishikawa
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, State Minister for Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. Yoichi Miyazawa
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota
Environment Minister, State Minister for Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Yoshio Mochizuki
Defense minister, minister in charge of security legislation Gen Nakatani *
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
Reconstruction Minister Wataru Takeshita
National Public Safety Commission Chairwoman, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue, State Minister for Disaster Management Eriko Yamatani
State minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, consumer affairs, food safety, science and technology, and space policy Shunichi Yamaguchi
Minister in charge of female empowerment,
administrative reform, state minister for declining birthrate
Haruko Arimura
Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization, State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari
Minister in charge of Regional Revitalization, State Minister for National Strategic Special Zones Shigeru Ishiba
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries Katsunobu Kato
Hiroshige Seko
Kazuhiro Sugita
 Director General, Cabinet Legislation Bureau  Yusuke Yokobatake
* Replacements

 


Prime Minister

Shinzo Abe

Date of birth: Sept. 21, 1954
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Yamaguchi No. 4 (eighth term)

With a landslide victory in the Dec. 14 Lower House election, Abe won a new mandate to pursue his goal of revising the war-renouncing Constitution to bolster Japan’s military capabilities.

In July, the Abe administration lifted the ban on Japan exercising the right to collective self-defense, which had been prohibited for decades under the pacifist Constitution. The move could pave the way for the Self-Defense Forces to support allies engaged in combat, even when Japan is not under attack.

During the upcoming ordinary Diet session to begin early next year, Abe is expected to focus all his efforts on steering security legislation through the Diet that would provide the legal foundation for SDF dispatches of this sort.

After he took office in December 2012, Abe first focused on bringing the stagnant economy out of long-running deflation, especially by employing intense monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

As a result, Japanese stocks went on a bull run while the yen continued to fall against the dollar, boosting the business prospects of export-dependent domestic manufactures in the auto and electronics sectors. Dubbed “Abenomics,” his economic policies appeared a success.

In recent months however, especially after the consumption tax rate was raised to 8 percent in April, some economic data indicate that Abe’s economic steps have hit a snag and have even started to falter. Therefore, Abe’s new team is likely to face an uphill battle to keep the economy afloat.

On the diplomatic front, Abe remains on a rocky road to improve Japan’s ties with China and South Korea, although Abe finally held a bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November. Bilateral ties have chilled over history issues, including repeated visits by Cabinet ministers to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine and Japan’s wartime military brothels where women and girls, many of whom were from Korea, were placed in sexual servitude.

Abe became Japan’s youngest postwar prime minister in September 2006, at age 52. After about a year in office, however, he abruptly stepped down, an exit he later attributed to an intestinal disease.

Born into a family of prominent politicians, Abe’s political views were largely influenced by his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, a wartime Cabinet member who was detained as a suspected Class-A war criminal after the end of World War II. Kishi was never indicted or tried, and after his release from prison in 1948 he eventually went on to became prime minister.

Abe is eager to fulfill his grandfather’s dream of revising the Constitution, arguing it was drafted under the strong influence of the United States during the Allied Occupation.

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Deputy Prime Minister; Finance Minister

Taro Aso

Date of birth: Sept. 20, 1940
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Fukuoka No. 8 (12th term)

Aso, 73, has been reappointed as deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Aso served as prime minister from September 2008 to September 2009, and he is the grandson of late Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida.

His reign ended after just one year when the LDP suffered a historic defeat to the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009.

A veteran politician, Aso has experience in other Cabinet posts, including foreign minister and internal affairs and communications minister.

While prone to verbal gaffes, he is an avid manga fan, which has helped him to cultivate popularity among younger voters.

Aso is also famous for competing in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in skeet shooting.

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Internal affairs and Communications Minister

Sanae Takaichi

Date of birth: March 7, 1961
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Nara No. 2 (seventh term)

Takaichi, 53, served in the 2006 Shinzo Abe Cabinet as state minister in charge of Okinawa and the Northern Territories, science and technology policy, the declining birthrate and gender equality.

A Nara native, she graduated from the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management and moved to the United States in 1987 to work for Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder as a Congressional Fellow.

Takaichi won election to the Lower House in 1993 as an independent candidate and joined a study group of the Liberal Party, which later became part of Shinshinto.

In 1996, she won a seat in the Lower House after being endorsed by Shinshinto, but the party lost nationally. Takaichi later left the party to join the LDP.

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Justice Minister

Yoko Kamikawa

Date of birth: March 1, 1953
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Shizuoka No. 1 (fifth term)

A former think tank researcher well versed in diplomatic affairs, Yoko Kamikawa succeeded Midori Matsushima, who resigned over an alleged violation of the election law.

Kamikawa, 61, a fourth-term Lower House member, served as the minister in charge of handling Japan’s falling birthrate for about a year starting in August 2007.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo and working as a researcher at the Mitsubishi Research Institute, she studied at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The native of Shizuoka Prefecture once worked as a policymaking staff member for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, who is now the U.S. ambassador to China.

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Foreign Minister

Fumio Kishida

Date of birth: July 29, 1957
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Hiroshima No. 1 (eighth term)

Retaining his Cabinet position, Kishida was initially tapped as foreign minister in 2012 in the hope that someone with his experience would help resolve the standoff over the relocation of Okinawa’s U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and to make progress in resolving the territorial dispute with Russia.

From 2007 to 2008, Kishida was state minister for Okinawa issues and for the Russian-held islands, for science and technology policy, and for regulatory reform during Abe’s first term as prime minister and that of his successor, Yasuo Fukuda.

Confirmed as foreign minister for a second tenure, his tasks likely include directing talks with North Korea over the abductions issue.

Kishida was born into a family of politicians in Hiroshima. His father and grandfather were both active in politics. He was first elected to the Diet in July 1993.

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Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister

Hakubun Shimomura

Date of birth: May 23, 1954
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokyo No. 11 (seventh term)

First appointed as education minister in December 2012, Shimomura expanded the ability of local schools to provide classes on Saturdays and pushed universities to improve their students’ English skills.

With his reappointment, the 60-year-old Shimomura is expected to continue to oversee the reform of the scandal-tainted Riken research institute.

Since September 2013, he has also headed a committee that is overseeing preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Gunma native lost his father at age 9 and was raised in a low-income family. He became a passionate advocate of offering all children a good education regardless of their household resources. While a student at Waseda University he operated a cram school.

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Health, Labor and Welfare Minister

Yasuhisa Shiozaki

Date of birth: Nov. 7, 1950
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Ehime No. 1 (seventh term)

A former chief Cabinet secretary, Shiozaki is making a comeback to the inner circle.

The new health minister is close to Abe, who appointed him chief Cabinet secretary when he first became prime minister in 2006.

A graduate of the University of Tokyo, Shiozaki joined the Bank of Japan in 1975. He earned a graduate degree in public administration from Harvard University in the U.S. in 1982.

A son of former LDP Lower House member and Economic Planning Agency head Jun Shiozaki, Yasuhisa entered national politics in 1993.

He was vice foreign minister for Junichiro Koizumi and chaired the Lower House Justice Committee in 2004.
Shiozaki enjoys hiking, swimming and listening to music. He is fluent in English.

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Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister

Koya Nishikawa

Date of birth: Dec. 26, 1942
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Tochigi No. 2 (sixth term)

This is Nishikawa’s first appointment to the Cabinet. He brings experience from the farming industry to the table as talks continue on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade bloc. He has headed the LDP’s panel on the TPP since 2013.

A Tochigi native, Nishikawa graduated from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology with a master’s degree in 1967 and worked for the Tochigi Prefectural Government for 11 years.

He was elected to the Tochigi prefectural assembly in 1979 and won a seat in the Lower House in 1996.

In fall 2002, he was appointed parliamentary vice minister of economy, trade and industry, and served as senior vice minister in the Cabinet Office from November 2004 under Junichiro Koizumi.

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Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, State Minister for Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.

Yoichi Miyazawa

Date of birth: April 21, 1950
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Upper House; Hiroshima Prefecture (first term)

Yoichi Miyazawa is a nephew of the late former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who was in power between 1991 and 1993.

A 64-year-old former Finance Ministry bureaucrat, he has worked as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s acting policy research council chairman. He also has experience as a senior vice minister in the Cabinet Office.

Miyazawa was picked to replace Yuko Obuchi, who was forced by scandal to resign.

First elected to the Lower in 2000 from a district in Hiroshima Prefecture after working as a policy secretary for Kiichi Miyazawa, he held the seat through two elections until 2009. Since 2010, he has been a member of the Upper House.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo and starting his career at the Finance Ministry in 1974, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

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Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister

Akihiro Ota

Date of birth: Oct. 6, 1945
Party: New Komeito
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokyo No. 12 (seventh term)

Ota retains his portfolio and remains the only Cabinet member drawn from the LDP’s junior coalition partner, New Komeito.

One of his most urgent tasks will be to oversee improvements in the government’s response to natural disasters, such as the deadly flash flooding and mudslides that hit the city of Hiroshima last month and left more than 70 people dead.

Ota grew up in a family that ran a geta store in Aichi Prefecture. He majored in engineering at Kyoto University. A formative incident during this time was the 1964 collapse of a newly completed girder bridge in Niigata Prefecture following an earthquake. Ota has said the disaster steered him toward specializing in quake-proof engineering.

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Environment Minister, State Minister for Nuclear Emergency Preparedness

Yoshio Mochizuki

Date of birth: May 2, 1947
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Shizuoka No. 4 (seventh term)

Formerly a senior vice transport minister, the 67-year-old Mochizuki was born in Shizuoka and studied law at Chuo University in Tokyo.

He was elected an assembly member in Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, in 1975 and served four terms before winning a seat in the prefectural assembly in 1991, where he served two terms.

He entered national politics in 1996, making it into the Lower House as an independent.
Mochizuki joined the LDP in 1997.

He was parliamentary vice minister in the Environment Ministry in the Junichiro Kozumi administration, and was involved in signing the Kyoto Protocol.

He was appointed senior vice transport minister in Shinzo Abe’s first Cabinet in 2006.

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Defense minister, minister in charge of security legislation

Gen Nakatani

Date of birth: Oct. 14, 1957
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Kochi No. 1 (Ninth term)

Under the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi between 2001 and 2002, Nakatani served as the chief of the Defense Agency, which was upgraded in 2007 to the Defense Ministry.

In Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s latest Cabinet formation following the Dec. 14 Lower House election, Nakatani replaced Akinori Eto, who was under fire over his political funds report.

A former Ground Self-Defense Force serviceman, Nakatani won his first Lower House seat in his native Kochi Prefecture in an election in 1990.

When he was named the defense agency chief in 2001, Nakatani was only the fourth-term lawmaker and the youngest to serve the post. He was also the first defense chief with experience in serving the SDF.

Nakatani started his political career by serving former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa as well as former Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Koichi Kato as their secretary.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary

Yoshihide Suga

Date of birth: Dec. 6, 1948
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Kanagawa No. 2 (seventh term)

Suga is staying on as the Chief Cabinet Secretary, a post that requires close coordination with the prime minister.

He is known to be a close ally of Shinzo Abe and his return underscores his position as a central member of the administration.

Born in Akita Prefecture, Suga graduated from Hosei University in Tokyo and worked as a secretary for Lower House lawmaker Hikozaburo Okonogi.

He kicked off his own political career when he was elected to the Yokohama Municipal Assembly and served there for two terms.

He became a Lower House member in 1996 and assumed the posts of parliamentary vice minister in the transport ministry and the trade ministry in the administration of Junichiro Koizumi.

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Reconstruction Minister

Wataru Takeshita

Date of birth: Nov. 3, 1946
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Shimane No. 2 (sixth term)

Takeshita, the younger brother of late Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, enters the Cabinet for the first time. He is a fifth-term Lower House member from the LDP.

The Shimane Prefecture native graduated from Keio University in 1969 and joined NHK, where he was a reporter. In 1985 he became a secretary to his brother. The prime minister resigned in 1989 over a financial scandal but remained a lawmaker.

In spring 2000, he ran for his brother’s Lower House seat when the elder Takeshita decided not to seek re-election due to illness. Noboru died during the campaign and Wataru won.

In 2005, he ran in Shimane against Hisaoki Kamei, a former LDP member who defected from the party after opposing Junichiro Koizumi’s postal privatization drive. Takeshita won easily.

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National Public Safety Commission Chairwoman, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue, State Minister for Disaster Management

Eriko Yamatani

Date of birth: Sept. 19, 1950
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Upper House; proportional representation (second term)

Yamatani graduated in 1973 and went to work as a journalist. She was a U.S.-based correspondent for various Japanese media, including radio, magazines and newspapers. She covered a range of topics, from education to senior citizen affairs. In 1988 she was appointed editor-in-chief of the Sankei Living Shimbun, a daily newspaper for female readers.

Yamatani embarked on a political career in 2000 when she was elected to the Lower House. At the start of Shinzo Abe’s first stint as prime minister in 2006, she was tapped as his adviser and remained a Cabinet member under successor Yasuo Fukuda.

She is known for conservative views, often tinged with patriotism.

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State minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, consumer affairs, food safety, science and technology, and space policy

Shunichi Yamaguchi

Date of birth: Feb. 28, 1950
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokushima No. 2 (ninth term)

Yamaguchi was elected to the Lower House for the first time in 1990. He joined Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet in 2003 as vice internal affairs and communications minister.

His opposition to Koizumi’s much-hyped initiative to privatize postal services resulted in his ouster from the Liberal Democratic Party in 2005 and forced him to run as an independent in the general election that year. He came back to the LDP in 2006 during Shinzo Abe’s first stint in power.

Yamaguchi has been known to push for improved natural disaster preparedness, and for the revitalization of local economies. He also says Japan should take more advantage of its agricultural industry and reduce the nation’s reliance on food imports.

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Minister in charge of female empowerment, administrative reform, state minister for declining birthrate

Haruko Arimura

Date of birth: Sept. 21, 1970
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Upper House; proportional representation (third term)

Arimura graduated from International Christian University in Tokyo and later attended the School for International Training in the U.S. state of Vermont, where she majored in human resources development.

After returning to Japan, Arimura took a job in human resources at McDonald’s that allowed her to make use of her expertise, but she returned to academia in 1999 to study international economics at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

She made her Diet debut in the 2001 Upper House election as an LDP-endorsed candidate and was appointed vice education minister in 2005.

Arimura is married to a railway employee and has two young daughters.

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Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization, State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy

Akira Amari

Date of birth: Aug. 27, 1949
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Kanagawa No. 13 (11th term)

Despite belonging to a different faction of the LDP, Amari is a close ally of Abe and played a pivotal role in securing his victory during the 2006 party presidential race. As Abe’s campaign manager during the LDP’s 2012 election, Amari once again was instrumental in Abe’s success.

Considered an energy expert, he advocates the need for nuclear power.

Although he has been tapped to take charge of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, Amari struggled during his stint in the previous Abe Cabinet to navigate trade talks between Japan and the U.S.

Speaking after one drawn-out negotiating session in which the two sides failed to make progress, a frustrated Amari reportedly blurted out: “I’d rather not be in charge of this ever again.”

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Minister in charge of Regional Revitalization, State Minister for National Strategic Special Zones

Shigeru Ishiba

Date of birth: Feb. 4, 1957
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Tottori No. 1 (10th term)

After earning a law degree from Keio University in Tokyo in 1979, Ishiba joined what was then Mitsui Bank. He entered national politics when he won a Lower House seat in 1986. The veteran lawmaker has since held multiple high-profile posts, including those of defense minister, agriculture minister and LDP secretary-general.

He is respected for his extensive experience in security and defense and has published many books on the subject.

Ishiba frequently champions views described as military-oriented. He supports revising the pacifist Constitution to grant Japan greater independence and flexibility in dealing with security threats.

He also believes the Self-Defense Forces should be granted more autonomy in protecting sovereign territory.

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