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Suga decides on cabinet lineup 

All national papers wrote that LDP President Suga, who will be elected prime minister at the Diet today, has decided on the key members of his cabinet. He will reportedly retain Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Aso, Foreign Minister Motegi, Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura, Education Minister Hagiuda, Trade Minister Kajiyama, Environment Minister Koizumi, and Land and Transport Minister Akaba. Health Minister Kato will be tapped as chief cabinet secretary and Defense Minister Kono as minister in charge of administrative and regulatory reform. Prime Minister Abe’s younger brother Nobuo Kishi will assume the post of defense minister. Suga’s decision to maintain the key cabinet members of the Abe administration shows that he is set to uphold the policy track of the departing leader, according to the papers.  

 

Kato is reportedly very close to Abe, having served under him as deputy chief cabinet secretary and minister in charge of promoting dynamic engagement of all citizens. Suga reportedly has strong confidence in his political skills and is likely to task him with handling the abduction issue. Economic Policy Minister Nishimura will continue to take the lead in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Suga will also reportedly retain core civil servants at the Kantei, including Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary in charge of administrative affairs Sugita and National Security Secretariat Secretary General Kitamura, in a bid to keep the GOJ’s crisis management arrangements running smoothly. Asahi noted that Kitamura is likely to visit Washington next week for talks with National Security Advisor O’Brien on Sept. 24. They are expected to exchange views on Japan’s missile defense system while taking into account the statement on the subject issued by Prime Minister Abe over the weekend.   

 

Meanwhile, Nikkei wrote that CCS Suga forged close bonds with former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Kennedy by meeting with her every month, noting that when he visited the U.S. in May 2019 Kennedy invited him to her residence and served a cake decorated with the era name Reiwa. During the same U.S. trip, Suga held talks with Vice President Pence, who personally saw him off  after their White House meeting. According to the daily, Suga is also close to former Ambassador Hagerty and Ambassador-nominee Weinstein. The politician has also maintained close ties with Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi, who is Beijing’s top official in charge of foreign affairs.   

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