Abe Cabinet (Formed September 3, 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||Midori Matsushima|
|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.||Yuko Obuchi|
|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||Akinori Eto|
|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, Science and Technology, Space Policy||Shunichi Yamaguchi|
|Minister in charge of Female Empowerment, Administrative Reform, State Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety, 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 *|
Date of birth: Sept. 21, 1954
Electoral district: Lower House; Yamaguchi No. 4 (seventh term)
Also the president of the ruling LDP, Abe is considered a conservative hawk who openly proposes 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.
In his Cabinet reshuffle, Abe created a new ministerial post to steer 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. 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.
Deputy Prime Minister; Finance Minister
Date of birth: Sept. 20, 1940
Electoral district: Lower House; Fukuoka No. 8 (11th 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.
Internal affairs and Communications Minister
Date of birth: March 7, 1961
Electoral district: Lower House; Nara No. 2 (sixth 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.
Date of birth: July 15, 1956
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokyo No. 14 (fourth term)
Matsushima was appointed senior vice minister of economy, trade and industry in September 2013. Born in Osaka Prefecture, she graduated from the University of Tokyo’s economics department in 1980 and worked as a reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, mainly covering economic and political news, until 1995.
Picked as a new recruit by the LDP’s Tokyo chapter in 1994, Matsushima left the Asahi in 1996 to launch a failed run for the Lower House. She was elected to the Lower House in her second bid in 2000.
She was appointed parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs in 2006 in Shinzo Abe’s first Cabinet. When Abe reshuffled his Cabinet in 2007, she was tapped as senior vice minister for land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.
Matsushima is an avid swimmer and runner, and is known for always wearing red clothes to work.
Date of birth: July 29, 1957
Electoral district: Lower House; Hiroshima No. 1 (seventh 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.
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister
Date of birth: May 23, 1954
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokyo No. 11 (sixth 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.
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister
Date of birth: Nov. 7, 1950
Electoral district: Lower House; Ehime No. 1 (sixth 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.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister
Date of birth: Dec. 26, 1942
Electoral district: Lower House; Tochigi No. 2 (fifth 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.
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, State Minister for Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.
Date of birth: Dec. 11, 1973
Electoral district: Lower House; Gunma No. 5 (fifth term)
Obuchi first became a Cabinet member in 2008 under Prime Minister Taro Aso, when she dealt with gender equality and the declining birthrate.
She made history in 2009 when she became the first serving minister to give birth. The child was her second.
When Shinzo Abe formed his Cabinet in December 2012, Obuchi served as senior vice finance minister.
After graduating from Seijo University in 1996, she spent three years with broadcaster TBS. She then joined the office of her father, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.
She planned to serve as interpreter for the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa in 2000 but cut short her English studies in London when she learned her father had fallen ill. Following his death in 2000, Obuchi won the seat in his district.
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister
Date of birth: Oct. 6, 1945
Party: New Komeito
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokyo No. 12 (sixth 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.
Environment Minister, State Minister for Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
Date of birth: May 2, 1947
Electoral district: Lower House; Shizuoka No. 4 (sixth 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.
Defense minister, minister in charge of security legislation
Date of birth: Oct. 12, 1955
Electoral district: Lower House; Aomori No. 2 (fifth term)
Eto rises from the post of senior vice defense minister and accepts responsibility for national security legislation, a newly created ministerial position.
He studied law at Nihon University.
In 1984 Eto joined Shiseikai, a social welfare corporation, and became involved with running nursing homes for the elderly, children and individuals with learning difficulties.
The work convinced Eto of the need for improvements in welfare and he decided to enter politics.
He first won a Lower House seat in 1996.
Eto was parliamentary vice minister in the Cabinet Office under Junichiro Koizumi between 2004 and 2005 and was senior vice defense minister in Yasuo Fukuda’s Cabinet from 2007 to 2008.
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Date of birth: Dec. 6, 1948
Electoral district: Lower House; Kanagawa No. 2 (sixth 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.
Date of birth: Nov. 3, 1946
Electoral district: Lower House; Shimane No. 2 (fifth 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.
National Public Safety Commission Chairwoman, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue, State Minister for Disaster Management
Date of birth: Sept. 19, 1950
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.
State Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Science and Technology, Space Policy
Date of birth: Feb. 28, 1950
Electoral district: Lower House; Tokushima No. 2 (eighth 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.
Minister in charge of Female Empowerment, Administrative Reform, State Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety, Declining Birthrate
Date of birth: Sept. 21, 1970
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.
Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization, State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy
Date of birth: Aug. 27, 1949
Electoral district: Lower House; Kanagawa No. 13 (10th 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.”
Minister in charge of Regional Revitalization, State Minister for National Strategic Special Zones
Date of birth: Feb. 4, 1957
Electoral district: Lower House; Tottori No. 1 (ninth 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.