Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reorganized Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new roster of senior vice ministers and changed all but two, who are members of New Komeito, a junior partner in the ruling bloc.
The selection process was driven mostly by Koizumi and his allies, coalition sources said.
In a break with tradition, Koizumi refused to approve some candidates nominated by factions in the Liberal Democratic Party and its allies New Komeito and the New Conservative Party, the sources said.
Appointees are usually picked from lists produced by LDP factions and the two smaller parties.
In the latest selection, some senior vice ministers not on any list were handpicked.
Tatsuya Ito, newly appointed senior vice minister for the Cabinet Office, is expected to help economic and fiscal policy minister Heizo Takenaka, who was given the financial services portfolio on Monday, with the task of implementing financial policy.
Takeo Kawamura, appointed senior vice education minister, was handpicked by Koizumi’s office to help the education ministry tackle a revision of the Basic Education Law, the sources said.
Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi nominated Toshimitsu Motegi to the post of senior vice foreign minister, partly for the role he played as chairman of an LDP panel to reform the scandal-plagued ministry, according to the sources.
Koizumi had wanted to have House of Representatives lawmakers in their fourth and fifth terms appointed senior vice ministers, but apparently ended up appointing many third-term lawmakers because several politicians who have served longer have already been senior vice ministers, and four fourth-term Diet members were made ministers in the new Cabinet.
Thus, no “heavyweight” lawmakers who have been ministers were made senior vice ministers in the latest nominations.