Abe Cabinet (Formed December 26, 2012)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Deputy Prime Minister; Finance Minister Taro Aso
Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo
Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota
Environment Minister; State Minister, Nuclear Accident Prevention Nobuteru Ishihara
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
Postdisaster Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto
National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya
State Minister, Okinawa and Affairs Related to the Northern Territories Ichita Yamamoto
State Minister, Declining Birthrate and Consumer Affairs Masako Mori
State Minister, Economic Revitalization Akira Amari
State Minister, Administrative Reforms Tomomi Inada

 

Prime Minister

Shinzo Abe

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

Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe, the presumptive next prime minister, is a conservative hawk who openly proposes revising the war-renouncing Constitution to bolster Japan’s military capabilities.

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.

The manner of his resignation and his subsequent widespread image as a leader who abandoned the top post have dogged him in the years since. But Abe, 58, now says he has overcome the disease, ulcerative colitis, thanks to a new drug.

In September, he returned to the LDP helm, voicing his resolve to return Japan’s foreign policy to a strong footing amid soured ties with China and South Korea over competing territorial claims in the East China Sea and Sea of Japan.

Abe has expressed his readiness to rename the SDF as the National Defense Force through a constitutional amendment, and to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a use of force banned under the government’s traditional interpretation of the pacifist Constitution.

During his stint as prime minister, he was credited with helping to thaw Sino-Japanese relations by visiting Beijing soon after his inauguration, the first trip to China by a Japanese prime minister in five years. Bilateral ties had chilled over the repeated visits of his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine.

Abe also engineered changes to the Fundamental Law of Education to place a greater emphasis on instilling a sense of patriotism among students, enacted referendum procedures to facilitate constitutional amendments, and bumped up the Defense Agency to full ministry status to increase its clout inside the government.

But he drew criticism from abroad, particularly in South Korea, for denying there was any proof the Imperial army had coerced women and girls into sexual servitude. His remarks appeared to revise a 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, who acknowledged Japan’s forces had forced females to work at military brothels during the war and apologized to the victims, many of whom were from the Korean Peninsula.

The LDP suffered a crushing defeat in the July 2007 House of Councilors election, and the ruling coalition led by the party lost its majority in the upper chamber. Abe’s resignation as prime minister less than two months later paved the way for the LDP’s ouster from power in 2009 by at the hands of the Democratic Party of Japan.

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 (11th term)

Aso, 72, is returning to the Cabinet for the first time since stepping down as prime minister in September 2009 and will also double as financial services minister.

His resume includes stints as internal affairs minister and secretary general, as well as foreign minister under Shinzo Abe.

The Fukuoka native has kept a low profile since the LDP’s historic collapse in the 2009 general election. But he was one of the first to endorse Abe for LDP president in September and shares his views on the economy, including aggressive monetary easing and growth driven by massive fiscal spending.

Aso’s grandfather was Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and his father-in-law was Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki. His sister is married to Emperor Akihito’s cousin. Aso once ran a family-owned cement firm in Kyushu.

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Internal Affairs and Communications Minister

Yoshitaka Shindo

Date of birth: Jan. 20, 1958
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Saitama No. 2 (fifth term)

An avowed nationalist, Shindo led three fellow lawmakers to South Korea in August 2011 to inspect Ulleungdo Island, where the administrative and military offices for the disputed Takeshima/Dokdo islets are located. They were stopped at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul.

Shindo is the grandson of Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi, commander of the Imperial forces during the battle of Iwojima.

Born in Saitama, Shindo graduated from Meiji University in 1980 after majoring in literature and went on to work at the Kawaguchi Municipal Government, mainly in city planning.

He entered politics in 1990, when he was elected to the Kawaguchi Municipal Assembly.

Shindo entered the House of Representatives in 1995 and was appointed vice trade minister in 2006.

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Justice Minister

Sadakazu Tanigaki

Date of birth: March 7, 1945
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Kyoto No. 5 (11th term)

Tanigaki was LDP president from 2009 after the party’s massive defeat in the Lower House election up until Shinzo Abe was elected party leader in the September presidential race.

Tanigaki became the second LDP president who did not serve as prime minister, after Yohei Kono.

He served as finance minister in Junichiro Koizumi’s administration from 2003 to 2006, and as transport minister in Yasuo Fukuda’s Cabinet in 2008.

Born and raised in Tokyo, Tanigaki graduated from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Law in 1972 and joined the bar in 1979.

He was first elected to the Lower House in 1983 after his father, Senichi, a former education minister, died and he took over his constituency.

An avid bicyclist and mountain climber, Tanigaki spends much of his free time in the outdoors.

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Foreign Minister

Fumio Kishida

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

Kishida, the LDP’s former Diet affairs chief, was born to a political family. His father and grandfather were politicians, and former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa is a distant relative.

Considered close to retired LDP heavyweight Makoto Koga, Kishida took charge of his faction in October.

He has been state minister for Okinawa-related issues and the Russian-held islands, for science and technology policy, and for regulatory reform under Shinzo Abe.

He also served as state minister in charge of consumer affairs and food safety under Yasuo Fukuda in 2008.

Kishida was tapped as foreign minister in hopes that his background will help overcome the standoff in relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, and the island dispute with Russia.

The Hiroshima native entered 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 (sixth term)

Shimomura’s interest in the field of education began well before he entered the Diet in 1996.

On his website, Shimomura narrates losing his father at age 9 and being raised in a family struggling with financial hardship, turning him into a passionate advocate of every child’s right to receive a good education regardless of their household’s resources. While he was a student at Waseda University, he started to operate a cram school.

Shimomura served two terms as a Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member, and joined the Diet after winning a Lower House seat in the 1996 election. He served as deputy chief Cabinet secretary during Shinzo Abe’s first stint as prime minister in 2006.

He is known for his conservative stand on sensitive historical issues, including the wartime sex slaves and the Nanjing Massacre.

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Health, Labor and Welfare Minister

Norihisa Tamura

Date of birth: Dec. 15, 1964
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Mie No. 4 (sixth term)

Tamura was vice internal affairs minister under Shinzo Abe’s first Cabinet, which lasted for a year from September 2006.

Tamura, 48, has worked on social security policy-related issues, and helped revise the unemployment insurance law when he chaired the Lower House Health, Labor and Welfare Committee when Taro Aso was prime minister.

Born in Matsusaka, Mie Prefecture, Tamura graduated from Chiba University’s faculty of law and economics.

He first started working for family-run construction company Nippon Doken Co. based in Tsu, Mie, in 1987, and then became secretary to his uncle, Hajime Tamura, a Lower House politician who served as labor minister as well as economy, trade and industry minister.

Tamura first entered the Lower House in 1996, taking over his uncle’s constituency.

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Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister

Yoshimasa Hayashi

Date of birth: Jan. 19, 1961
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Upper House; Yamaguchi (third term)

Considered one of a new breed, Hayashi made headlines in September as the first Upper House councilor to run for LDP president. He finished last but was endorsed by the influential Makoto Koga, sealing his reputation as an up-and-coming leader.

Hayashi was defense minister under Yasuo Fukuda in 2008 and state minister in charge of economic and financial policies under Taro Aso in 2009.

The University of Tokyo graduate went to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is known for his broad policy knowledge, including diplomacy and economics. He entered the Upper House in 1995.

His father, Yoshiro, was a finance minister and his grandfather served in the Lower House. An avid fan of rock music, he plays in a band with other Diet members and quotes Beatles songs in his speeches.

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Economy, Trade and Industry Minister

Toshimitsu Motegi

Date of birth: Oct. 7, 1955
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Tochigi No. 5 (seventh term)

Though this is his first time to head the industry ministry, Motegi has wide-ranging policy experience, having held a number of ministerial posts.

He became state minister in charge of issues pertaining to Okinawa and the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, as well as science and technology policy, in Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet.

He also served as state minister in charge of financial services and administrative reform under Yasuo Fukuda in 2008. Most recently, he was LDP policy chief for a year from September 2011.

A University of Tokyo and Harvard University graduate, Motegi worked for management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for eight years. He was also a visiting professor at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Global Information and Telecommunication Studies between 2005 and 2010.

A native of Tochigi Prefecture, Motegi entered the Diet in 1993.

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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 (sixth term)

Ota, an Aichi native, was first elected to the Lower House in 1993. He became president of New Komeito — the LDP’s junior coalition partner — in 2006, replacing Takenori Kanzaki.

In the 2009 general election, New Komeito suffered a major defeat along with the LDP, losing power to the DPJ. Ota himself lost his Diet seat, giving the party no choice but to appoint Natsuo Yamaguchi as party leader.

After earning a master’s in engineering at Kyoto University, Ota worked for Komei Shimbun, New Komeito’s newspaper, for a year and a half.

Since becoming a politician in 1993, he has pushed for reinforcing the quake-resistance of elementary and junior high schools. He also backs further development in Tokyo’s Kita and Adachi wards, his poll district.

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Environment Minister; State Minister, Nuclear Accident Prevention

Nobuteru Ishihara

Date of birth: April 19, 1957
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokyo No. 8 (eighth term)

Ishihara, the eldest son of former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, has held key positions in the LDP and was most recently secretary general under former leader Sadakazu Tanigaki.

He was also the party’s policy chief under Abe during his first stint as president in 2007.

Upon entering the Diet in 1990, Ishihara came to be known as one of a new generation of policy-oriented lawmakers, playing a key role in enacting the Financial Revitalization Law.

He helped privatize four expressway corporations under Junichiro Koizumi and also voiced the need to change the LDP’s faction-oriented politics. But instead of fighting lawmakers with vested interests, Ishihara ended up trying to coordinate with them, earning a reputation as indecisive and soft.

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Defense Minister

Itsunori Onodera

Date of birth: May 5, 1960
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Miyagi No. 6 (fifth term)

Since entering the Lower House in 1997, Onodera has mostly specialized in diplomacy.

He was appointed senior vice minister for foreign affairs in 2007 when Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet, and parliamentary secretary for foreign ministry in 2004 under Junichiro Koizumi.

In 2000, he resigned from the Diet after breaking the election law by handing out boxes of incense to voters in his constituency.

Born in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Onodera graduated from Tokyo University of Fisheries in 1983 after majoring in marine environmental science and technology.

He entered the Miyagi Prefectural Government in 1983 before entering Matsushita Institute of Government and Management in 1990, while studying politics at the University of Tokyo. He graduated from both and earned his master’s degree in political science in 1993.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary

Yoshihide Suga

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

As one of Shinzo Abe’s most trusted allies, Suga was a key supporter during his 2006 run for the LDP presidency, which vaulted him into the prime minister’s chair.

Suga served as internal affairs minister from 2006 to 2007 in Abe’s first Cabinet, after entering the Diet in 1996.

Born in Akita Prefecture, Suga was a factory worker in Tokyo before attending Hosei University. He later became secretary to then-Lower House lawmaker Hikozaburo Okonogi, serving him for 11 years.

Under the wing of LDP heavyweights Taro Aso and Abe, Suga filled a number of key party positions despite his relative inexperience as a lawmaker, which reportedly triggered jealousy among some LDP members.

Abe has held many meetings with Suga since the Dec. 16 election to discuss the Cabinet lineup, among other matters.

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Postdisaster Reconstruction Minister

Takumi Nemoto

Date of birth: March 7, 1951
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Fukushima No. 2 (sixth term)

While this is Nemoto’s first ministerial post, the Fukushima Prefecture native is viewed as a key aide to Abe and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki.

The three, along with ex-LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara, once formed a group called NAIS, and all four won their first Diet seats in 1993. Key posts Nemoto has held include special adviser to Abe during his first prime ministership, and to ex-leader Junichiro Koizumi.

Abe apparently selected Nemoto to lead the recovery effort in Tohoku because he has been actively helping Fukushima residents cope with the March 2011 disasters despite losing his seat in the 2009 general election.

Some of his proposals include expanding the areas eligible for reconstruction subsidies, and creating indoor playgrounds for children in fallout-contaminated areas.

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National Public Safety Commission Chairman

Keiji Furuya

Date of birth: Nov. 1, 1952
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Gifu No. 5 district (eighth term)

Having served as secretary to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s father, the late Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, Furuya is known as a close ally of the LDP chief and for being well-versed on the Japanese abductees issue.

Under the first administration of Junichiro Koizumi, Furuya was appointed vice trade minister. But he voted against Koizumi’s key postal system privatization legislation in 2005 and defected from the LDP. After retaining his Lower House seat for a sixth term, as an independent, he returned to the party.

Considered a rightwinger, Furuya’s position is that the Imperial Japanese Army was not guilty of forcing women and girls into sexual slavery across Asia to service its troops during the war. He also opposes granting foreign residents local-level suffrage.

Furuya is a fourth-generation Lower House member.

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State Minister, Okinawa and Affairs Related to the Northern Territories

Ichita Yamamoto

Date of birth: Jan. 24, 1958
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Upper House; Gunma (third term)

A close ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Yamamoto began his political career in 1995 after the death of his father, Tomio Yamamoto, a former secretary general of the LDP’s Upper House caucus.

Having no close ties to utilities, he was chosen to lead an energy panel launched by the LDP after the Fukushima No. 1 crisis started. Yamamoto’s background is more focused on diplomacy.

He served as parliamentary secretary for the Foreign Ministry under Keizo Obuchi and Yoshiro Mori’s Cabinet and was also a senior vice foreign minister under Yasuo Fukuda. He also chaired the Upper House’s Foreign and Defense Affairs Committee.

The Chuo University and Georgetown University graduate once worked for the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

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State Minister, Declining Birthrate and Consumer Affairs

Masako Mori

Date of birth: Aug. 22, 1964
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Upper House; Fukushima (first term)

This is the first Cabinet post for this lawyer and mother of two from Fukushima Prefecture.

The Tohoku University graduate entered the Upper House in 2007 and has been vice chairwoman of the LDP’s judicial committee and chairwoman of the Upper House Committee on Oversight of Administration.

Mori passed the bar exam in 1992 and was a visiting researcher at New York University Law School. She entered the Financial Services Agency in 2005 but left to run for governor of Fukushima in 2006, losing to Gov. Yuhei Sato.

Mori has spent much of her career focusing on consumer rights and has been promoting efforts to rebuild disaster-hit areas in the Tohoku region since the March 11 quake and tsunami.

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State Minister, Economic Revitalization

Akira Amari

Date of birth: Aug. 27, 1949
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Kanagawa No. 13 (10th term)

Despite belonging to a different faction, Amari is a close Abe ally. He was one of the central members who succeeded in leading Abe to victory in the 2006 LDP presidential race, and also acted as his campaign manager in the September poll, greatly contributing to Abe’s re-election as party head.

LDP policy chief since September, Amari has also served as trade minister and state minister in charge of administrative reforms. Considered an energy expert, he firmly advocates retaining nuclear power despite strong public opposition stemming from the Fukushima disaster.

In June 2011, while the LDP was in the opposition, Amari formed a “policy group” of about 20 lawmakers to hammer out a plan to rebuild Japan, separate from the faction he belongs to now led by Nobuteru Ishihara.

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State Minister, Administrative Reforms

Tomomi Inada

Date of birth: Feb. 20, 1959
Party: LDP
Electoral district: Lower House; Fukui No. 1 (third term)

Inada is a well-known nationalist who made headlines as part of an LDP group that attempted to inspect South Korea’s Ulleungdo Island in August 2011. This is her first ministerial post.

She is opposed to granting suffrage to long-term foreign residents and has repeatedly visited the war-related Yasukuni Shrine. She also opposes married couples retaining their surnames.

In the Diet, she has been a member of Lower House judicial, internal affairs and financial affairs committees.

She was also vice secretary general of the LDP.

Born in Fukui Prefecture in 1959, Inada graduated from Waseda University in 1981 and passed the bar exam the next year.

Her hobby is Sado (tea ceremony) and she respects Saigo Takamori, one of the politicians behind the Meiji Restoration.

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