Japan’s Abe reshuffles cabinet

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared that he wants to refocus the national agenda on the economy.

With this in mind, he unveiled his choice for a new cabinet on Wednesday.

But playing it safe, Abe retained about half of the current 19 members, including the finance, defense, foreign affairs and economics ministers.

Taro Kono, a frequent government critic, has been appointed minister for administrative reform.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato has been promoted to a newly created portfolio — the Minister for a Society in Which All 100 Million People Can be Active.

The former finance minister is tasked with encouraging greater workforce participation, including female empowerment, a key element of Abe’s pet economic policies known as “Abenomics”.

But the number of women in the cabinet has dropped to three from five.

Abe hopes his new cabinet can help fix the stale economy. He’s laid out a set of ambitious targets, including expanding the economy by one-fifth by 2020.

The Japanese leader, however, has to fight against the wind.

With falling exports and a contraction in the second quarter of the year, fears of recession are running high.

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