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Replacement of administrative vice defense minister causing stir

Saturday’s Yomiuri reported that the GOJ’s decision on Friday to replace Administrative Vice Minister of Defense Shimada Kazuhisa is causing a stir within the GOJ and the ruling coalition. According to the paper, Shimada served as a secretary to then-Prime Minister Abe for six and a half years and was assigned to the current position in August 2020. The paper said although DM Kishi had been asking the GOJ since May to retain Shimada in view of the planned revision of the three national security documents at the end of this year, the Kantei reportedly disapproved of Shimada’s term exceeding two years. Shimada will be replaced by Suzuki Atsuo, Commissioner of the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency. The paper wrote that Shimada is close to former PM Abe and has been leading efforts within the GOJ to raise Japan’s defense budget to 2% of GDP. According to the paper, Abe was also hoping for Shimada’s retainment. Noting that Abe continues to make aggressive remarks related to increasing the defense budget, the paper said some within the LDP view that the replacement of Shimada could become a “flashpoint” between PM Kishida and Abe in the runup to the planned revision of three national security documents. Sunday’s Asahi, Sankei, and Nikkei carried similar stories.

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