Abe already preparing policy team for new job

by Hiroko Nakata

Prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Abe has already started taking applications from bureaucrats who want to join his policy team at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The government’s announcement on Thursday came just one day after Abe was elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Abe is expected to be made the nation’s leader next Tuesday in a vote in the House of Representatives, which the ruling bloc of the LDP and New Komeito controls.

Abe plans to appoint five to 10 working-level bureaucrats who will tackle specific issues.

The applicants will be interviewed by Abe and his aides, and those chosen will take up their new posts Tuesday, when Abe plans to forms his new Cabinet.

Conventionally, staff at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, including secretaries to the prime minister, are senior officials sent to him by each ministry to act as liaisons between their ministries and the prime minister.

The plan to appoint working-level bureaucrats to Abe’s staff is his first step in centralizing policymaking at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

He has said that he will also increase the number of policy advisers to the prime minister from two to five to work in the areas as diplomacy, defense, and educational reforms.