No Cabinet reshuffle till next year, Abe says

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has no plans to reshuffle the Cabinet when the terms of his ruling party’s top executives expire this month, despite growing pressure to do so.

Abe told reporters in St. Petersburg on Wednesday that he believes the ministers involved in compiling the fiscal 2014 budget should remain responsible for seeing it through. He also noted that the team has been in office for less than a year.

This implies that he intends to keep the Cabinet intact through the next ordinary Diet session, which opens in January.

In the meantime, the Cabinet is apparently expected to concentrate on ending deflation and shoring up the economy when an extraordinary Diet session convenes next month, sources said.

Abe doubles as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and the terms of some of his top executives expire at the end of this month. He said he intends to retain Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, Vice President Masahiko Komura, Policy Research Council head Sanae Takaichi, General Council chief Seiko Noda, Election Strategy Committee head Takeo Kawamura and Executive Acting Secretary-General Hiroyuki Hosoda.

For other senior officials, senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries, Abe said he told Ishiba and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday to handle the matter and make the decisions.

Some in Abe’s own LDP are calling on him to reshuffle the Cabinet, sources said, and the pressure is expected to grow toward year’s end.

Abe said he has instructed the ministers to study additional economic measures regardless of his pending decision on whether to raise the consumption tax in April 2014.

Abe is visiting St. Petersburg for a two-day summit of the Group of 20 major and emerging economies, which begins Thursday.