Abe to lead new LDP reform section

Outgoing Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shinzo Abe will lead a new party reform section that is to be under the direct control of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, LDP sources said Saturday.

The decision came as Koizumi prepared for reshuffles Monday of the Cabinet and the LDP leadership. Abe will step down from the party’s No. 2 post to take responsibility for the LDP’s failure to win the targeted number of seats in the House of Councilors election in July.

Koizumi is working on choosing Abe’s successor. The prime minister told reporters Friday the next LDP secretary general will be “a person who understands structural reforms well, including postal privatization, and devotes him- or herself to these reforms with a sense of responsibility and passion.”

Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki is regarded as a candidate for the post, along with LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fukushiro Nukaga and Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Hidenao Nakagawa.

The secretary general is one of the party’s three key posts. The other two are General Council chairman and policy council chief.