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Suga to reshuffle LDP leadership, retain Nikai as secretary general

TOKYO – New Liberal Democratic Party President Yoshihide Suga is set on Tuesday to reshuffle the Japanese ruling party’s leadership, retaining Toshihiro Nikai as secretary general while naming former education minister Hakubun Shimomura as policy chief.


A day after being elected new party leader to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Suga plans to appoint Tsutomu Sato, a former minister of internal affairs and communications, as chairman of the General Council while retaining Hiroshi Moriyama as head of the Diet Affairs Committee, party sources said.


After the shake-up, Suga is scheduled to meet with Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the LDP, at which the two will agree to maintain the governing coalition.


Suga, Abe’s chief Cabinet secretary, is set to be named prime minister in an extraordinary Diet session on Wednesday, after which he will form a Cabinet to carry out his policies focusing on administrative reforms as well as fighting the coronavirus pandemic while promoting the economy.


Nikai, who has served in the No. 2 post since 2016, is known as a power broker and played a key role in Suga’s overwhelming victory over two other contenders including current policy chief Fumio Kishida in Monday’s LDP presidential election.


The election was triggered by Abe’s sudden announcement in late August that he would resign for health reasons.


In other key party moves, Taimei Yamaguchi, who prior to the reshuffle was head of the Party Organization and Campaign Headquarters, is set to be named head of the Election Strategy Committee, the sources said.


Nikai, Shimomura, Sato, Moriyama and Yamaguchi belong to each of the five factions that backed Suga in the LDP presidential election.


Suga also plans to appoint Seiko Noda, a female lawmaker who is unaffiliated, as the party’s executive acting secretary general.


In a press conference on Monday, Suga said he would choose Cabinet ministers that align with his thinking regardless of faction affiliations.


On his successor as chief Cabinet secretary, who acts as the top government spokesman, Suga said he would name someone who is “well-rounded.”

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