Mainichi wrote on Saturday that Prime Minister Suga has decided to tap Vice Foreign Minister Akiba for secretary general of the National Security Secretariat when incumbent Kitamura retires from the post in early August. Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Mori is expected to fill the ministry portfolio to be vacated by Akiba. Foreign Policy Bureau Director General Yamada is likely to succeed Mori. The daily said Akiba played a key role in coordinating Suga’s visit to the U.S. in mid-April as the first foreign dignitary to be greeted by President Biden.
Yomiuri ran a similar story, noting that as the longest serving vice foreign minister, Akiba was instrumental in promoting the nation’s free and open Indo-Pacific initiative and built close personal bonds with Ambassador Kennedy in the late 2010s as director general of the North American Affairs Bureau. The daily said Suga has great confidence in Akiba’s professional expertise. Nikkei said the planned appointment signals the premier’s intention to have the Foreign Ministry take the lead in diplomacy, noting that the ministry’s clout in foreign policy decision making had declined substantially under former Prime Minister Abe since he relied heavily on input from METI officials.