Opposition parties criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday as based on political considerations rather than merit, with some taking particular umbrage at the reappointment of Finance Minister Taro Aso.
"The Liberal Democratic Party has gone back to their old ways of rewarding loyalty with favors," said Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary general of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, adding that the appointments "are far from what the Japanese people want."
He was alluding to the September LDP leadership election in which Abe won more than 80 percent of votes among Diet members. Takashi Yamashita, the new justice minister, was the only cabinet appointee hailing from the faction led by Abe's solo rival in that race, Shigeru Ishiba.
Aso, a key Abe ally, also kept his portfolio as deputy prime minister despite a string of document tampering and sexual harassment scandals at the Finance Ministry under his watch.
"We will be going after the cabinet members who stayed on without taking responsibility during the extraordinary Diet session in the fall," Fukuyama told reporters.
Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, echoed the sentiment, saying Aso staying on amounts to "a declaration that he won't take responsibility (for the scandals). Should Abe have chosen someone else? We'll have some heated debates on the Diet floor."
Akira Koike, second-in-command of the Japanese Communist Party, said the revamped cabinet "lacks impact." Social Democratic Party chief Seiji Mataichi called the lineup a "clearance sale" of veteran lawmakers waiting their turn to be given a ministerial post.