Motegi, Ishihara also in running

Kawaguchi in lead for top diplomat post

Kyodo, JIJI

Upper House lawmaker Yoriko Kawaguchi may return for another stint as foreign minister under the new government to be led by Liberal Democratic Party chief Shinzo Abe, sources said.

Putting the final touches on the lineup for his Cabinet, which is to be formally inaugurated Wednesday, Abe is leaning toward picking Kawaguchi, 71, for her past experience as foreign minister from 2002 to 2004 under then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. She also served as environment minister in 2001 under then-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

But the situation surrounding Kawaguchi’s appointment is fluid, given calls by some LDP members for giving the post to former financial services minister Toshimitsu Motegi or former LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara, the sources said.

Motegi is also considered a candidate for economy, trade and industry minister or internal affairs and communications minister under the Abe Cabinet, the sources said.

Abe is set to serve as prime minister for a second time since his first stint in 2006-2007, following his party’s landslide victory in the Dec. 16 general election.

Together with Yoshihide Suga, who is to become chief Cabinet secretary, Abe is assessing who to pick for his Cabinet and discussing political schedules after his team’s launch.

Regarding other appointments, Abe has decided to appoint former New Komeito chief Akihiro Ota as land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister, separate sources said.

Ota was tapped to oversee public works projects because Abe finds it necessary to step up building projects designed with disaster prevention and reduction in mind — a view Ota concurs with, the sources said.

They also said former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura might be named education, culture, sports, science and technology minister, because he heads the LDP’s education reform task force and is versed in education policy management.

Abe plans to have former Prime Minister Taro Aso, who has already been tipped as deputy prime minister and finance minister, to also serve as financial services minister.