Prime Minster Fumio Kishida’s government approved on Friday a list of new senior and parliamentary vice ministers, devoid of any female members, in stark contrast to the reshuffled Cabinet lineup featuring a record-tying five women.
There are 26 senior vice ministers and 28 parliamentary vice ministers on the list, all of whom are male lawmakers belonging to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party or its junior coalition partner Komeito.
At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the government has put “the right people in the right positions,” taking into account the diversity of the entire Cabinet, including ministers and special advisers to the prime minister.
Kishida on Wednesday appointed five women as ministers, including the top diplomat, in an apparent attempt to freshen up the image of his Cabinet and bolster its sagging approval ratings.
The government also tapped two female special advisers to Kishida, including a former opposition lawmaker, a move seen as a prelude to a potential realignment of the ruling coalition.
Wakako Yata, 57, who served as deputy chief of the labor union-backed Democratic Party for the People, became an adviser in charge of wages and employment.
The former senior member of manufacturer Panasonic’s labor union was elected to the House of Councilors in 2016. But she retired from politics after losing in the 2022 Upper House election.
The appointment comes amid speculation that Kishida intends to include the opposition party, which has many labor union voters, into the existing ruling coalition.
The other female special adviser is LDP Upper House lawmaker Michiko Ueno, 65, who is in charge of female empowerment and elderly and consumer administration.