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Sources say Obuchi tipped to replace Ishiba as LDP secretary-general

JIJI

Former Cabinet Minister Yuko Obuchi has emerged as a candidate to replace Shigeru Ishiba as secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, informed sources said Sunday.

If appointed, Obuchi, 40, former minister for measures on Japan’s declining birthrate, will be the party’s youngest-ever and first female secretary-general.

This will represent a symbolic move in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to encourage more women into leadership roles.

Obuchi, the second daughter of the late former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, became the youngest Cabinet minister in the country’s postwar history when she was 34.

Abe plans to reshuffle his Cabinet and top executives of his LDP Wednesday.

In the reshuffle, Sanae Takaichi, 53, chair of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, is highly likely to get a ministerial post, according to informed sources. She has played a key role in Abe’s policy planning such as the compilation of his growth strategy.

According to sources, Masashi Waki, 69, secretary-general for the LDP in the House of Councilors, the upper chamber of the Diet, may join the new Abe Cabinet.

The LDP’s Upper House members have been pushing for a Cabinet post for Waki, but he seeks to remain in the current post, according to the sources.

Other candidates for ministerial jobs include Shunichi Yamaguchi, 64, an LDP member of the House of Representatives, or the Lower House, sources said.