Saturday morning’s Asahi front-paged a speculative story claiming that Prime Minister Abe is likely to ask FM Kishida to continue to serve as the nation’s top diplomat when he reshuffles the cabinet lineup on Aug. 3 in order to task him with improving the nation’s critical relations with Russia, China, and South Korea. The premier may tap LDP Election Strategy Committee Chairman Motegi as minister for fiscal and financial policy. In addition to Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga and Finance Ministry Aso, Health Minister Shiozaki and Land Minister Ishii will also probably be retained. On the other hand, Justice Minister Iwaki, Okinawa Affairs Minister Shimajiri, and METI Minister Hayashi will be replaced. Sunday’s Sankei said LDP Policy Research Council Chairwoman Inada will probably be given a key cabinet post, while Minister for Regional Revitalization Ishiba will either be retained or be given a different portfolio in the new cabinet.
Most weekend papers conjectured that Abe will have little choice but to replace LDP Secretary General Tanigaki because of the serious cycling injury he sustained in mid-July. Although the prime minister is still hoping to keep Tanigaki in his post on account of the role that the dovish politician has played to ensure party harmony, Tanigaki is unlikely to heed the premier’s request. According to Yomiuri, Tanigaki has told the prime minister that he will not be able to fulfill his duties as secretary general since his hospitalization may become prolonged.
NHK reported this morning that the premier has decided to appoint LDP General Council Chairman Nikai as secretary general and has already sounded him out on the post, saying that Nikai has accepted the offer. The network said PM Abe has also decided to retain FM Kishida. Deputy PM Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga will also remain in their current posts.