I think that too much time has passed since the election for the cabinet remake - not that Abe could have avoided it, given the need to deal with the implications of the political financing scandal - and too many incidents remindful of the pre-election Abe era happening in the meantime that any bright spots in the appointments will be merely noted and quickly forgotten. There's a belabored, shopworn feel to the political Christmas Eve atmosphere.
I also think that too much is made of the electoral consequences of the kakusa (economic winners and losers) issue. After all, the coalition did badly in the big cities as well, where the benefits of the economic recovery are supposedly accruing. As substantial as the crises were – which the Abe administration had more than its share – the seriousness of the leadership problem, real and perceived, in dealing with them cannot be overemphasized. Not that any of the other hopefuls project themselves very well in that respect.