Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who has taken the lead in negotiating key trade deals, and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi – brother of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – both retained their jobs.
The finance portfolio will go to Shunichi Suzuki, who is replacing his own brother-in-law Taro Aso.
The Cabinet includes three women, among them Kishida’s one-time rival for the leadership, Seiko Noda, who was named minister in charge of addressing Japan’s declining birth rate.
“The Kishida cabinet aims at balance with consideration given to major factions, young lawmakers, and neighbouring countries,” said Junichi Makino, SMBC Nikko Securities chief economist.
“It’s the kind of cabinet formation that reflects Kishida, who works not to make enemies.”
US President Joe Biden offered his congratulations to Kishida, saying the “historic partnership” between the two nations will continue.
As prime minister, Kishida faces a raft of challenges, from the post-pandemic economic recovery to confronting military threats from North Korea and from China, Japan’s biggest trading partner.
“We need to continue our dialogue (with China). On the other hand, cooperating with our allies and friends, we are going to say firmly what we have to say. That’s an important stance,” he said.
And raising the emotional issue of Japanese people whom Tokyo believes were abducted by North Korea, Kishida said he was willing to meet the reclusive country’s leader Kim Jong Un to discuss the issue “without conditions”.
Suga’s government saw its approval ratings slump as it struggled to tackle waves of infection, including a record virus spike over the summer while the Olympics were being held in Tokyo.
Much of Japan has been under virus emergency measures for a large part of the year, with the restrictions finally lifting last week as new infections decline.
More than 60 per cent of the population is now fully vaccinated, but there are concerns that the healthcare system could easily become overwhelmed again in a new virus wave.