Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida replaced his defence and foreign ministers on Wednesday in a major cabinet reshuffle that also saw an increase in the number of women in the cabinet.
The shakeup came as North Korea fired two ballistic missiles and tensions with China rose. Kishida said the changes were necessary to "strengthen the government's unity and respond to the challenges facing Japan."
Yoshimasa Hayashi was replaced as foreign minister by Yoko Kamikawa, a former justice minister who was instrumental in the execution of the Aum Shinrikyo cult members who carried out the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo.
Kamikawa is one of five women in the new cabinet, the joint-highest record in Japanese politics. The other women are:
Kishida's cabinet reshuffle comes as he faces increasing pressure to address rising prices and other economic challenges. He has said he plans to "implement a bold economic package" to address the impact of inflation on voters.
The reshuffle is also seen as an attempt by Kishida to shore up his support within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). He will have to stand for re-election as party leader next year.
In June, Kishida's son, Shotaro, was forced to resign from his position as his secretary after it was revealed that he had invited relatives to a party at the prime minister's official residence.
The reshuffle is a gamble by Kishida, but it could be necessary to boost his standing and give him a fresh start.