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Kishida gives consideration to Abe, Aso in LDP leadership appointments 

All national papers on Saturday reported extensively on the launch of the LDP leadership headed by President Kishida, noting although the newly elected president stressed that he tapped “the right people for the right jobs,” the lineup apparently reflects Kishida’s deference to former Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso, who both played a key role in his election. The LDP president appointed Amari Akira, who belongs to the Aso faction, as secretary general because the veteran politician was reportedly instrumental in ensuring that the LDP’s two biggest factions effectively led by Abe and Aso joined hands to defeat Administrative Reform Minister Kono in the runoff. Furthermore, Aso was named as LDP vice president, and most of the other high-level posts were granted to Diet members belonging to the two factions.   

Sankei wrote that Kishida has strong confidence in Amari’s political prowess, adding that as a staunch hardliner on China, Amari may serve as a “shield” for Kishida, who is known as a “dove” when it comes to diplomacy. Asahi said some LDP politicians are worried that Amari’s appointment will draw criticism from the opposition bloc and certain voters in the run-up to the general election because he was embroiled in a money scandal involving his secretary that cost him the post of trade minister about five years ago.          

In related stories, Mainichi and Jiji wrote that Abe was not necessarily pleased with Kishida’s selections for LDP executives since he allegedly wanted his confidant Takaichi Sanae to be tapped as secretary general instead of Policy Research Council chairperson and Education Minister Hagiuda, a key ally of Abe, as chief cabinet secretary. While Kishida appointed Matsuno Hirokazu as chief cabinet secretary and Fukuda Tatsuo as LDP General Council chairman, both of whom are members Abe’s faction, these lawmakers are apparently not particularly close to Abe but have strong connections with former PM Fukuda, who was at odds with Abe when they served as chief cabinet secretary and deputy chief cabinet secretary, respectively, under the Koizumi administration. Jiji speculated that Amari, who reportedly maintains cordial relations with Abe, is expected to play the role of a “buffer” between Abe and Kishida. 

Meanwhile, Sunday’s Yomiuri wrote that Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for administrative affairs Sugita and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Izumi will step down on Monday, saying that the two veteran Kantei officials earned respect under the Abe and Suga administrations as behind-the-scenes “powerbrokers” who cleared myriad bureaucratic hurdles to pursue various policy objectives. As the two elderly bureaucrats have wielded enormous influence over Kasumigaseki on account of the two prime ministers’ absolute confidence in them, the paper projected that their departure is likely to weaken the Kantei’s grip over other government agencies.

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