TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering keeping Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki in his current post in an upcoming cabinet reshuffle, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday (Sept 12).
Continuity at the finance ministry would underscore the administration’s focus on keeping sharp yen falls in check, and compiling a fresh package of measures to cushion the blow from rising living costs.
Kishida is set to reshuffle his cabinet on Wednesday partly to shore up his slumping approval ratings, though most key cabinet ministers are seen retaining their posts in a sign there will be no drastic overhaul of economic policies.
The Yomiuri newspaper reported earlier that Kishida has decided to retain Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
Since becoming finance minister in October 2021, Suzuki oversaw the government’s yen-buying intervention last year, and recently issued verbal warnings as the yen hit a 10-month low against the dollar last week.
Japan’s economy is making a delayed recovery from the wounds of the Covid-19 pandemic, though rising fuel and food costs have weighed on consumption.
While a weak yen boosts exporters’ profits, it hurts retailers and households by pushing up costs for imported fuel and raw materials.
Inflation exceeded the Bank of Japan’s 2 per cent target for the 16th straight month in July, opening scope for the central bank to phase out its massive stimulus programme but heightening pressure on the administration to ease the pain on households.
Kishida said last month that he planned to compile a package of economic measures in September that included subsidies to curb gasoline and utility bills.