Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will reshuffle his cabinet and the leadership of Liberal Democratic Party in early September. Of the incumbent cabinet ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono is probably the most nervous about this personnel shakeup.
Kono, who is fluent in English, says that the job of minister for foreign affairs is his “true vocation.” But there are rumors he is eager to “raise his profile as a post-Abe candidate.”
In recent days, he summoned South Korean Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo over the lawsuits concerning the former requisitioned workers and bawled him out before the press by saying, “It is extremely contemptuous to feign ignorance and make a proposal again.” This won praise online, but a senior executive of the Liberal Democratic Party was aghast when he heard this and commented that “it was clearly a gesture motivated by his desire to stay in his post.”
Kono has also conveyed to Minister of Finance Taro Aso, who backs him, his desire to continue to serve as the minister of foreign affairs, but one person from the Aso faction says that “he does not take good care of his juniors and is rumored to have abused a member of the MOFA staff by calling the person a ‘piece of junk’.”
With the influence of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, rival candidates to succeed Abe, declining, will Kono be able to stay in his post?