TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC)-Telegenic Shinjiro Koizumi, Abe’s new environment minister, regularly tops lists of lawmakers whom voters favor to succeed to the nation’s top job.
Koizumi was one of 13 first-time ministers among 19 whose appointments were announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. At 38 years of age, Koizumi becomes the third-youngest to win a portfolio in post-war Japan, media said.
Koizumi’s appointment, although to one of the less powerful cabinet posts, could give a popularity boost to the new line-up.
It could also bolster Koizumi’s chance of competing to succeed Abe when the prime minister’s term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party chief ends in September 2021.
Abe, who returned to power in December 2012 promising to reboot the economy and bolster defense, is already on track to become Japan’s longest-serving premier in November.
Koizumi - popularly called Shinjiro to distinguish him from his father - grabbed headlines last month with news that he would marry Christel Takigawa, a French-Japanese television presenter, an
d they will soon have a baby.
Abe, although drafting more than a dozen new faces, retained his close allies, Finance Minister Taro Aso, 78, and Suga, 70. Both have served in their posts since Abe returned to office.
“It looks like the ultimate buddy-buddy cabinet. He’s shuffling the same people around, with only those with good ties with Abe joining,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley.
Aso must help ensure the economy weathers an increase in the sales tax to 10% from 8% in October, which could dampen consumption when a U.S.-China trade war is clouding growth.