Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering retaining Fumio Kishida as chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council in a renewal of the ruling party’s executive team seen to be carried out early next month following Abe’s victory in the LDP leadership election Thursday, it was learned Saturday.
In addition, Abe is expected to keep economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko in their respective posts in a Cabinet reshuffle also likely to be conducted in early October, sources in the Abe administration said.
The prime minister will visit New York from Sunday mainly to attend the U.N. General Assembly session and hold a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Abe, who is slated to return home on Friday, is expected to reshuffle the LDP executive team on Oct. 1 and his Cabinet the following day, after the closely watched gubernatorial election in Okinawa Prefecture on Sept. 30.
In the LDP election, Abe defeated his sole contender, former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, to win a third straight and final three-year term as party president.
As Kishida, who supported Abe in the election, leads the fourth-largest intraparty faction, the prime minister apparently believes that it is desirable to let Kishida continue serving in a key post in light of stable management of the Abe administration.
By giving preferential treatment to Kishida, Abe also seems to be trying to prevent Ishiba, who performed better than expected in the LDP election, from increasing his presence within the party, the sources said.
Former economic revitalization minister Akira Amari, who played a key role in Abe’s campaigning in the party election, is likely to obtain an important party post, such as chairman of the decision-making General Council.
Motegi, who also backed Abe in the election, has been leading efforts to promote the prime minister’s Abenomics economic policy mix and is in charge of minister-level new trade talks between Japan and the United States.
Kono continues tackling key diplomatic challenges, including issues related to North Korea, and Seko, a close aide to Abe, engages in trade and energy talks with other countries.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa is expected to leave the Cabinet, as she is believed to be under strong psychological pressure after she ordered the executions of all 13 former members of the Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult on death row in July, the sources said.
Instead, Abe is considering giving an LDP post to Kamikawa, according to the sources.
It has already been reported that Abe plans to retain such key officials as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai.
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato is also expected to stay on, the sources said.