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LDP lawmakers jockey for Cabinet posts ahead of reshuffle

JIJI

Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers with interests in specific industries are competing to win related ministerial posts in the Cabinet reshuffle Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is slated to conduct on Sept. 3.

Among these are the defense, agriculture and education portfolios. Intraparty factions with aspiring members are stepping up campaigns to promote them, although Abe, the LDP president, has hinted that he’s disinclined to accept proposals on specific candidates for the reshuffle.

Candidates for defense minister include Takeshi Iwaya, a member of the faction led by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, and Akinori Eto, who belongs to the faction headed by former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tadamori Oshima.

Iwaya heads the ruling LDP’s Research Commission on Security and was part of its joint committee with New Komeito, its junior coalition partner, on collective self-defense.

Since there is speculation that the defense post will go to someone who was on the joint committee, an official of the Aso faction said Iwaya would be a good choice.

But an Oshima faction official countered by saying that Eto, the former parliamentary senior vice defense minister, has good political balance.

There is a possibility that if LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba accepts Abe’s offer of the new ministerial post for security legislation, he might also be asked to serve concurrently as defense minister. But Ishiba is set to decline the offer.

Among candidates for agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister are Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, a member of Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s faction, and Koya Nishikawa, a member of the faction led by Toshihiro Nikai, former minister of economy, trade and industry.

Nishikawa boosted his profile during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations with the United States and 10 other countries.

But a member of the Kishida faction said that Miyakoshi, who is constantly focused on farm policy issues, is the best person for the job.

Toshiaki Endo is seen as a leading candidate for education minister, although he does not belong to any faction. He heads the LDP’s task force on education reform, one of Abe’s key policy issues.

The faction led by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura meanwhile hopes to see Hiroshi Hase, who has served as senior vice education minister, awarded the post of education minister.