Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revamped his Cabinet on Wednesday, making good on his commitment of promoting women to leadership roles by appointing a record-tying five women to ministerial posts.
The reshuffled Abe administration was launched after its members attended an attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace. They held their first Cabinet meeting later the same day.
Abe said his administration will continue to treat revitalizing the nation's economy as a top priority.
"I reshuffled my Cabinet to firmly push various measures forward with a fresh mind," the prime minister said at a press conference Wednesday.
He said focus will be placed on vitalizing local economies as he has seen a "virtuous circle" being created in the economy under his economic policy package known as Abenomics.
"The next mission for the Cabinet is to spread the effects of Abenomics across the nation to create vigorous and attractive regions," he said.
To steer this task, Abe appointed Liberal Democratic Party's Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba to the newly created post of minister for vitalizing local economy. The fate of Ishiba drew public attention as his discord with Abe had grown stronger. The prime minister initially considered tapping Ishiba as minister for national security, tasked with handling Diet deliberations on bills to allow the nation to exercise its right of collective self-defence within specified limits. But Ishiba declined the offer due to his differences of opinion with Abe over security policies.
The task of security legislation - another focus of the Abe administration - was given to Akinori Eto, who was also named defence minister for his expertise and security knowledge.
"I intend to speed up work to prepare the legal basis for national security to enable a seamless response [to emergencies]," he said.
Meanwhile, Abe boosted the number of women in his Cabinet by three from his previous Cabinet, equaling the record marked by the first administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2001.
The five women chosen for Abe's portfolios are Sanae Takaichi as internal affairs and communications minister; Midori Matsushima as justice minister; Yuko Obuchi as economy, trade and industry minister; Eriko Yamatani doubling as state minister for the abduction issue and National Public Safety Commission chair; and Haruko Arimura as state minister tasked with promoting women's active participation.
All five individuals are lawmakers, though the female ministers under the Koizumi administration included two from the private sector.
"I believe I placed the right people in the right places through the appointments [of the five women]," he said. "I hope they shake things up through their perspective as women."
Growing frustration within the LDP apparently prompted him to reshuffle his Cabinet and the party's executive lineup. There are currently about 60 LDP lawmakers who have been elected as House of Representatives members more than five times, or to the House of Councillors more than three times, and are considered eligible for cabinet posts but have no ministerial experience.
Abe was apparently under growing pressure from such people as well as many other mid-ranking and senior LDP members who hope to join a cabinet.
But Wednesday's Cabinet overhaul is unlikely to mitigate such frustration. Abe retained six members to maintain the stable management of his administration while many of the new members have experience serving as ministers. Eight ministers, including Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki, joined a cabinet for the first time.