Japan's Abe to reshuffle cabinet, LDP executives

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-01 18:06:47|Editor: An
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TOKYO, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that he will reshuffle his cabinet and ruling party executives on Thursday.

Abe said during an executive meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that the purpose of the reshuffle is to reinvigorate the lineup, which has been in place for exactly a year since he appointed the current cabinet on Aug. 3, 2016.

The reshuffle comes at a time when the public's support rate for Abe's cabinet has hit historic lows amid a number of high-profile scandals.

The prime minister himself has been implicated in an ongoing influence-peddling scandal.

The scandal involves allegations Abe used his position so that a friend of his could receive favorable treatment in his business being selected by the government to open a new school in a special deregulated zone.

"I hope to rekindle public support for the cabinet," Abe told the meeting after formally announcing the date of the reshuffle.

Sources close to the matter have said that Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, widely tipped to become the next LDP leader, and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, are likely to retain their portfolios.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, will also stay on in his current role, the sources said.

Following the resignation of Tomomi Inada as defense minister last week to account for a coverup scandal involving the concealing of mission logs of Japanese troops on a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, Itsunori Onodera, is believed to be a front-runner for the post.

It is believed that Abe wants the defense minister's position to be held by someone who has experience in the role.

Onodera previously held the post between December 2012 and September 2014 and holds the same conservative beliefs as the prime minister and is also affiliated with the nationalist and openly revisionist Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference) lobby.

The likelihood is, the sources added, that Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda will be replaced, as will both Education Minister Hirokazu Matsuno and regional revitalization minister Kozo Yamamoto, both of whom have not fared well in the wide-reaching influence-peddling scandal.

According to local media reports, LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai will stay on in his post and has been asked by Abe to do so, he said, while the LDP's Vice President Masahiko Komura will likely not be switched out, the sources said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing that Abe told his ministers and executives he planned to "implement various policies even more aggressively with new members of his administration."

Following the meeting, Nikai said that along with other senior party members, he approved of Abe's decision to change his lineup.

Nikai said that the party needed to pay heed to the recent drop in public support and conduct itself appropriately.