Here are the profiles of members of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet launched on Sept. 16:
- PM Suga tasked with beating coronavirus, economic woes
After serving as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's right-hand man for nearly eight years, Yoshihide Suga ascended to the top job at a time when Japan is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and a deep recession.
As chief Cabinet secretary, Suga consolidated power in the prime minister's office by threatening to sideline bureaucrats who do not align with his thinking. He was called an "iron wall" for his crisis management skills, rarely making gaffes as the government's top spokesman.
Suga, 71, has said he will push for administrative reform, blaming much of the government's inefficiency on sectionalism among the various agencies.
The son of a strawberry farmer from Akita Prefecture in northeastern Japan, Suga won a House of Representatives seat in 1996 representing a constituency in his adopted hometown of Yokohama. He loves pancakes and does not drink alcohol.
- Finance Minister Aso, political bigwig but gaffe-prone
Taro Aso, retained as finance minister, is a heavyweight of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party known for his outspoken views but whose gaffes have repeatedly drawn the public's ire.
A longtime ally of Shinzo Abe, Aso has doubled as deputy prime minister since the former prime minister's return to power in late 2012, playing a key role in the "Abenomics" policy mix aimed at pulling Japan out of its deflationary slump through aggressive monetary easing, fiscal spending and deregulation.
Winning his first Diet seat in 1979, the 79-year-old has served as foreign minister and in other key government and party posts. Aso was prime minister for about a year until the then-Democratic Party of Japan took power in September 2009 following a landslide general election victory over the LDP led by him.
Aso, a grandson of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, represented Japan as a skeet shooter in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He is also known for his love of manga and Panama hats.
- Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato seen as steady hand
Japan's new Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, known as a longtime loyal aide of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been described by his supporters as a steady hand in policy implementation.
A former health minister, Kato, 64, has taken over the post that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held for nearly eight years. While serving as Suga's deputy from 2012 to 2015, he was also the first head of the newly formed Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, set up to give the prime minister's office control over the appointment of senior bureaucrats.
A former Finance Ministry bureaucrat, Kato served as an aide to his father-in-law, former agriculture minister Mutsuki Kato, before making two unsuccessful attempts at a Diet seat. He was finally elected to the lower house in 2003 and now represents a constituency in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan.
The Tokyo native with four daughters has also held other ministerial posts, including those in charge of tackling the issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals as well as promoting women's empowerment and work-style reform.
- Motegi is policy expert who led TPP trade talks
Toshimitsu Motegi, retained as foreign minister, is known to be well-versed in economic and foreign policies, having acted as Japan's point man in striking a trade deal with the United States and concluding negotiations on the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-member free trade agreement.
Before becoming foreign minister in September 2019, Motegi led talks to conclude the TPP pact and struck a bilateral deal with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in 2019 in his capacity as minister for economic and fiscal policy.
Motegi, 64, had a diverse career before entering politics, with stints at trading house Marubeni Corp., at the Yomiuri Shimbun as a political news reporter and at McKinsey and Co. as a management consultant.
The nine-term House of Representatives lawmaker is a graduate of the University of Tokyo and John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
- Administrative reform minister Kono touted as future PM
Taro Kono, who became Japan's new administrative reform minister, has been ranked highly as a possible future prime minister in media opinion polls, backed by his candid remarks and popularity on social media through his frequent Twitter posts.
Kono, a former defense minister, grabbed public attention for his decision in June to halt the government's plan to deploy the U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore missile interception system, which was unpopular among residents around its positioning candidate sites.
A Georgetown University graduate, Kono, 57, visited a total of 123 countries and regions during his previous post as foreign minister between 2017 and 2019 and communicated with his counterparts in fluent English.
An eighth-term member of the House of Representatives representing a constituency in Kanagawa Prefecture, Kono was born into a family of politicians. His father, Yohei Kono, served as foreign minister, chief Cabinet secretary, and lower house speaker.
- Economy minister Nishimura leads Japan's fight against virus
Yasutoshi Nishimura, retained as Japan's economic revitalization minister, concurrently serves as minister in charge of the fight against the novel coronavirus.
A former official at what is now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Nishimura, 57, is known as an aide to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, having served as his deputy chief Cabinet secretary.
Nishimura, a six-term House of Representatives member from Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, ran in an LDP presidential race in 2009, when the party was not in power. But he was defeated by former party leader Sadakazu Tanigaki.
- Digital minister Hirai advocate of paperless society
Takuya Hirai, who took Japan's newly created post of digital minister, is an avid advocate of creating a paperless society through the use of information technology.
The 62-year-old member of ruling Liberal Democratic Party made his mark when he shunned paper documents and used a tablet device to answer questions in a parliamentary session in 2019 during his year as technology minister.
A native of Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan, and the eldest son of former labor minister Takushi Hirai, he enjoys golf as a pastime and is an accomplished player.
- Trade minister Kajiyama known for close ties with Suga
Hiroshi Kajiyama, retained as minister of economy, trade and industry, is known for his close ties with new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga whose political mentor was Kajiyama's late father.
After working several years at the precursor of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Kajiyama joined the staff of his father Seiroku Kajiyama, a veteran Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who briefly served as what was then minister of international trade and industry, and later as justice minister and chief Cabinet secretary.
The 64-year-old Kajiyama was first elected as a House of Representatives member in 2000 after taking over his father's Ibaraki Prefecture constituency. Since then, Kajiyama has served in such government posts as regional revitalization minister and deputy land minister.
- Koizumi Jr. touted as possible future leader
Shinjiro Koizumi, retained as environment minister, is a popular lawmaker who has been touted as a potential future prime minister of Japan.
Son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the 39-year-old is a fourth-term House of Representatives member from Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and has worked on issues such as agriculture and rebuilding northeastern Japan areas after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
In September last year, the younger Koizumi was named as environment minister, making him the third-youngest Cabinet member since World War II. A month earlier, he made headlines by announcing his marriage to TV personality Christel Takigawa.
- Defense Minister Kishi is Abe's younger brother
Nobuo Kishi, who became Japan's new defense minister, is former premier Shinzo Abe's younger brother and a grandson of late Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.
The lower house lawmaker, who was adopted by his aunt and uncle, is well-versed in international and defense affairs. As senior vice foreign minister, he helped facilitate the transfer of U.S. carrier planes to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in his native Yamaguchi Prefecture, as part of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
The 61-year-old also served as a parliamentary vice defense minister in two Cabinets.
The former employee of trading company Sumitomo Corp. was first elected to the House of Councillors in 2004. In 2012, he successfully ran for the more powerful House of Representatives, and is currently serving his third term representing Yamaguchi.
- Kamikawa assumes justice minister post for 3rd time
Yoko Kamikawa, who founded a public policy consulting firm before entering politics, assumed the post of justice minister for the third time.
During her previous time in the post, which lasted about a year from 2017, Kamikawa ordered the execution of all 13 AUM Shinrikyo cult members on death row, including founder Shoko Asahara, in connection with the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
A sixth-term House of Representatives member from Shizuoka Prefecture, the 67-year-old worked for the Mitsubishi Research Institute and then studied at Harvard University. The mother of two daughters, Kamikawa's hobbies are aikido and classical Japanese dance.
- Health minister Tamura heads LDP's coronavirus task force
Norihisa Tamura, who returned to the post of health, labor and welfare minister that he held six years ago, headed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's task force responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 55-year-old eighth-term lower house member, who has also served as parliamentary vice health minister, is versed in social security and employment. He is a senior member of an intraparty group headed by former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, who was defeated by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the LDP leadership race.
A native of Mie Prefecture, central Japan, Tamura has a wide range of interests and hobbies, such as judo, karate and mountain climbing. He is also an honorary adviser of the Japan Sommelier Association.
- Reconstruction minister Hirasawa gets his 1st Cabinet post
Katsuei Hirasawa, an eight-term House of Representatives member known for his appearances on TV debate programs, became minister for disaster reconstruction, his first Cabinet post.
Hirasawa has worked on national security and foreign affairs, including the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
The 75-year-old native of Gifu Prefecture in central Japan joined the National Police Agency in 1968 before entering politics. He was former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's childhood tutor while a law student at the University of Tokyo.
- Internal affairs minister Takeda known as quick decision maker
Ryota Takeda, who is the new minister of internal affairs and communications, is known for his quick decision-making skills and the swift response he exhibited during his previous post as minister in charge of disaster management.
The 52-year-old was appointed to the Cabinet last year for the first time, also serving as the head of the National Public Safety Commission. He has also held key posts including senior vice defense minister and deputy secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The six-term member of the House of Representatives won his first seat in 2003 at his fourth attempt. Before entering politics, the Fukuoka Prefecture native was secretary to Shizuka Kamei, a well-known former lawmaker who was minister of transport and financial services.
- Olympic minister Hashimoto to face challenges over delayed games
Seiko Hashimoto, retained as minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, is expected to face plenty of challenges in dealing with the major sporting events delayed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic, such as infection prevention measures.
The first Japanese woman to win an Olympic medal in speed skating at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, the 55-year-old Hokkaido native assumed her first ministerial post in September last year after helping Tokyo land the 2020 Games as a Japanese Olympic Committee board member.
Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian who also competed as a cycling sprinter, began her political career as a member of the House of Councillors in 1995. Her absence from the Diet session in 2000 to give birth prompted parliament to allow maternity leave for its members for the first time.
- World Expo minister Inoue enters Cabinet for 1st time
Lower house lawmaker Shinji Inoue, entering the Cabinet for the first time, took up the post as minister in charge of the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka as the central government is stepping up preparations for the international event to be held in the western Japan city.
The sixth-term House of Representatives member, representing a constituency in a western Tokyo suburb, served as senior vice environment minister twice between 2012 and 2016, tasked with responding to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis.
After graduating from the elite Kaisei High School and the University of Tokyo, the 50-year-old became a bureaucrat in the construction ministry, now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The father of three enjoys running marathons.
- Retained land minister Akaba is veteran Komeito lawmaker
Kazuyoshi Akaba, retained as land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister, is a senior lawmaker from the Komeito party, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
An eight-term House of Representatives member, the 62-year-old former employee of trading company Mitsui and Co. posted in Beijing, dealt with the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis as a senior vice minister of economy, trade and industry. Akaba also served as a senior vice finance minister earlier.
After being first elected as a House of Representatives member in 1993, his constituency in Kobe suffered the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and he has since worked to introduce quake-proof school buildings.
- Farm minister Nogami valued in upper house for Diet coordination
New agricultural minister Kotaro Nogami, who secured his first ministerial post, is one of the visible members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the upper house, valued for his ability to work behind-the-scenes in coordinating policy.
The third-term House of Councillors lawmaker served as deputy chief Cabinet secretary for around three years since 2016. He is credited with being level-headed in his responses as a government spokesman when he had to step in on behalf of then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, now prime minister.
The 53-year-old Toyama Prefecture native is a graduate of Keio University. He played basketball during his school days, having participated in national high school competitions for two years.
- Hagiuda stirs debate over univ. entrance exams
Koichi Hagiuda, remaining at his ministerial post as minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, came under criticism last year over a controversial plan by his ministry to outsource English tests for university enrollment exams.
Asked about the fairness of using such private-sector tests that would be problematic in terms of access to test locations and the relatively high exam fees, Hagiuda said students should compete "in accordance with their (financial) standing," a comment taken as lacking consideration to low-income families.
Known as a close aide to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the 57-year-old Tokyo native became a member of the House of Representatives in 2003 after serving as a member of a local city assembly and the Tokyo metropolitan assembly.
- Former journalist Sakamoto builds career in Kumamoto
Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is new to a Cabinet portfolio as minister in charge of regional revitalization, measures for the declining birthrate and promoting dynamic engagement of all citizens, has built his career in his native Kumamoto Prefecture in southwestern Japan.
Starting as a reporter at Kumamoto's local newspaper, where he worked for 15 years, the 69-year-old was elected a member of the prefectural assembly four times from 1991 before becoming a House of Representatives member in 2003 from a Kumamoto constituency.
When a pair of massive earthquakes struck Kumamoto and its vicinity in 2016, killing 275 people, he devoted himself to reviving the region.
- Okonogi, son of Suga's boss, in disaster role again
Hachiro Okonogi, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and disaster management minister, is taking up the posts for the second time, having held them for a year from 2017 in his first stint in the Cabinet.
Okonogi headed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's campaign in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's leadership election. His family has a connection with the new premier as Suga used to work as a secretary for Okonogi's late father Hikosaburo Okonogi, a former construction minister, when Suga started out on his political career.
The 55-year-old native of Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, does not perform well under pressure in Diet debate and has tended to play a behind-the-scenes role, including as LDP acting Diet affairs chief. He is a vocalist in a band formed with fellow lawmakers.