Members of new Abe Cabinet related to Okinawa

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe carried out his first Cabinet reshuffle, Sep. 3rd, his first since forming his cabinet in December 2012.

As personnel related to Okinawa, Abe appointed three people.  Shunichi Yamaguchi will take up the post of a Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs. Yamaguchi said in the press conference, “I will try my best to promote Okinawa and reduce the burden of U.S. bases on Okinawa. With a strong association with related ministers as well. I would like to listen to Okinawa’s citizens, too.”

Against the critics that the base issue and Okinawa’s promotion measures are linked, Yamaguchi said “I don’t think it is right. I have been working on promotion of Okinawa when I was the LDP’s leader of the Depopulated Area Development Committee.  I will tackle the Okinawa issue.”  Commenting on the influence of the result of Okinawa Gubernatorial race in November toward the promotion budget, he stated “I will just do my own job. It does not matter the result, who will win the race.”

Yoshihide Suga will double as Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister in Charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa, which is a new set up. At a press interview, Suga emphasized, “I believe that the relocation to Henoko is the best choice, in terms of possessing the deterrent force and elimination of the risk from the Futenma base. We will just go forward with the construction of the Futenma Base relocation.” When asked about a report Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed calling for the cancellation of the construction of Futenma Base relocation, Suga did not answer clearly.

Kozaburo Nishime, one of the LDP Okinawan diet members, was appointed as the Vice Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications. The reason of his appointment is that Nishime has served as a chief of the Department of General Affairs in the LDP since October in 2013, and is conversant with general affairs administration. Nishime is the chief of the local LDP Okinawa Chapter, too. It’s widely seen that the choice of Nishime is aimed at giving a boost up the Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s changes of winning the third term in the gubernatorial race in November.