Japan’s prime minister reshuffles government

The move follows a drop in Fumio Kishida’s grades and public outrage over the ruling party’s ties to a controversial religious group

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday, removing several ministers linked to the controversial Unification Church, which came to light after the murder of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe, who led the government between 2012 and 2020, was shot and killed at a public event in July. His killer said he was angry with the politician, whom he accused of promoting the church, who allegedly bankrupted his mother through donations.

Several ministers in Kishida’s cabinet and members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party had revealed ties to the Unification Church, now officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

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Some church officials had previously been convicted in Japan for soliciting money from followers through illegal means, including threats. Critics claim that the organization is in fact a cult.

The government’s ties to the church have been blamed for Fumio Kishida’s recent drop in public support as the prime minister’s ratings fell below 50% for the first time since he took office in October 2021.

The prime minister, who insists he has no ties to the church, said he needed a stable administration to tackle “the greatest challenges of the post-war period” such as the Covid-19 pandemic, high inflation, the conflict in Ukraine and the tensions around Taiwan.

The new composition of the cabinet was announced several hours after the previous government announced its resignation.

Kishida decided to keep chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and finance minister Shunichi Suzuki.

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However, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, the younger brother of the late Shinzo Abe, was sacked as part of the reshuffle. Kishi, who is said to have health issues, admitted receiving church support in previous elections. He will be replaced by Yasukazu Hamada, former Minister of Defense between 2008 and 2009.

Other notable appointments include Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi, known for her hawkish foreign policy, and Digitization Minister Taro Kono, who served as Japan’s top diplomat between 2017 and 2019 and most recently headed the Liberal Democratic Party public relations office.

Among the immediate challenges facing the new government are drawing up a budget for the next fiscal year, organizing a state funeral for Abe and revising the country’s defense strategy and policy documents, according to media reports. local.


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