(Update 1 adds Suga’s election pars 1-6, new headline)
Tokyo, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, unveiled his cabinet, composed of 20 ministers, 11 of them from his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s government, including those occupying the highest positions.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso, 79, and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, 64, both of whom were very close to Abe, will stay on in their positions.
Taro Kono, 57, viewed as a future candidate for party leadership and the defense minister until now, will take charge of administrative reform.
One of the most notable developments is the appointment of Abe’s younger brother, Nobuo Kishi (61) as the new defense minister.
Nobuo Kishi had previously held a senior position in the foreign ministry.
Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, 55, will remain while former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobo Kato, 64, will become chief cabinet secretary and government spokesperson, a position Suga occupied before becoming prime minister.
The new cabinet was announced at a press conference by Kato on Wednesday shortly after Suga was elected as the new prime minister by the country’s parliament.
Suga’s cabinet is yet another example of his commitment to offer continuity to Abe’s government, whose political roadmap he aims to continue to implement.
Of the total of 20 ministries of the new cabinet, eight are retaining their portfolios, three were in the previous government and have changed portfolios, four have been part of cabinets in the past and five are first-time ministers.
The average age of the cabinet is 59.9 years, excluding Suga, who is 71 years.
There are only two women in the new cabinet – Hashimoto and Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa, 67, – a figure that is in line with previous administrations.
During his term, Abe launched a plan dubbed “Womenomics” that aims to increase the proportion of women in senior positions in public and private sectors to 30 percent by 2020 although all of his cabinets had minimal female representation.
In statements on Wednesday before stepping down as prime minister, Abe said he will support Suga’s government as lawmaker.
Abe made the statements hours after posting a video on the official Twitter account of the prime’s minister’s office, known as kantei, in which he appreciated the “likes” and comments posted on the platform which, he said, encouraged his cabinet to take on challenges.
Abe added in the video that while challenges remained, he had accomplished several that had divided national opinion during his time in office.
The minute-long video shows images of his last years at the helm of the government, including his participation in the race to organize the 2020 Olympic Games, former United States president Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, his appearances at G7 and G20 summits and meetings with leaders from around the world.
Abe, the longest-serving prime minister in Japan’s recent history, announced his decision to resign on Aug. 28, midway through his current term as the Liberal Democratic Party leader, which was to end in September 2021.
Speculation about Abe’s health had intensified recently following the prime minister’s recent visits to a hospital in the capital and some reports of health problems.
The prime minister said in a press conference that he was resigning as his health condition was not perfect and poor health could lead to erroneous political decisions. EFE-EPA