TOKYO – Key members close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe such as Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga are likely to retain their posts in a Cabinet reshuffle the premier plans to carry out in September, ruling lawmakers said Monday.
Abe sees the contributions of Aso, who doubles as finance minister, and top government spokesman Suga as vital in implementing the consumption tax hike in October as scheduled, and in continuing his policies to spur economic growth through monetary easing and robust fiscal spending as he pledged in the upper-house election campaign, the lawmakers said.
The ruling coalition led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party secured a majority in Sunday’s House of Councillors election. However, the premier’s goal to revise the war-renouncing Constitution appears out of reach as he will lack sufficient votes to initiate the process.
Aso, a former prime minister, is a longtime close friend of Abe, and Suga, who boosted his profile in announcing the new era name Reiwa for the accession of Emperor Naruhito in May, has been seen as Abe’s right-hand man.
Both Aso and Suga have served in their current posts since the launch of the Abe administration in December 2012 when the LDP returned to power.
A senior official of the Abe government indicated that key members are expected to stay in the new Cabinet to be launched in mid-September.
Echoing the view, Abe himself told a press conference on Monday that the two have supported the Cabinet as its main pillars.
With regard to LDP leadership, one focus has been whether Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai will retain his post. Abe also spoke highly of Nikai’s contribution during the upper-house election.
The LDP-led government customarily changes party leadership when it reshuffles the Cabinet, with some members switching from one to the other.
Meanwhile, the LDP plans to pick former Vice President Akiko Santo as president of the upper house, the ruling lawmakers said. Santo won her eighth term as an upper-house lawmaker in Sunday’s elections.
Abe said an extraordinary Diet session will be convened on Aug. 1 to elect the new president of the upper house. The president will be picked from the LDP, which maintained its position as the chamber’s leading party.