Koizumi’s Cabinet picks shrouded in mystery

by Reiji Yoshida

schedules

to appoint personnel to the three executive posts to the party and the Cabinet on Oct. 31,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference later the same day.

The special Diet session opened after the Sept. 11 Lower House election and ends Tuesday.

The LDP’s three top executive posts are secretary general, chairman of the Policy Affairs Research Council, and chairman of the Executive Council, the party’s top decision-making body.

Koizumi, who has pledged to step down next September, indicated soon after the election that he hopes to appoint lawmakers who have the potential to serve as the next prime minister in the upcoming reshuffles of the Cabinet and LDP leadership.

Among politicians who are widely believed to be possible successors to Koizumi are LDP Deputy Secretary General Shinzo Abe, who enjoys strong popularity among voters thanks to his tough diplomatic stance; and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Taro Aso, who has proved useful to Koizumi in a number of administrative reforms.

Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, a competent politician and someone it is hoped might improve diplomatic ties with China and other Asian countries, and Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, known for his policy expertise, are also among the candidates.

Koizumi’s choices for key Cabinet posts will greatly affect the race to become the next prime minister, political insiders agree.

However, Koizumi’s likely choices remain a mystery. The new Cabinet lineup is expected to be announced Monday afternoon, given Koizumi’s secretive style of deciding personnel matters.

The prime minister ignores traditional consensus-building based on factions.