Fumio Kishida has taken office as Japan’s Prime Minister on Monday.
Kishida was elected as Japan’s 100th Prime Minster on Monday, winning more than half of the votes in both the lower and upper houses. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga resigned after being in office for 384 days.
New Prime Minister Kishida announced his 20-member Cabinet on Monday, appointing former Education Minister Hirokazu Matsuno as chief cabinet secretary. New 13 ministers have been appointed to ministerial posts and two of them are in their 40s. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that the new Cabinet has appointed young ministers but at the same time has struck a balance between old and young ministers. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi kept their posts. Koichi Hagiuda, a close ally of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been appointed as economy and trade minister. Matsuno is also a member of the Hosoda faction led by Abe. Close allies of Abe have been appointed to many of the ministries related to South Korea-Japan relations.
Kishida served as Japan’s foreign minister in December 2015, when South Korea and Japan reached an agreement on comfort women. Bilateral relations between the two countries are not likely to improve any time soon since Kishida has protested that South Korean court’s ruling on compensation for comfort women and forced laborers, saying it is violation of international law and the South Korean government should take care of it under the 2015 agreement.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a letter to Prime Minister Kishida on Monday to congratulate him on his inauguration and called on him to work together to develop future-oriented relations between the two countries. Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said that South Korea is ready to sit face to face with Japan’s new Prime Minister and intends to strengthen cooperation with Japan in various fields, including economy, culture, and people-to-people exchanges for co-prosperity of the two countries.