Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi indicated on Wednesday that he may postpone the reshuffling of his Cabinet until his return from Europe on Jan. 13.

When asked whether he intended to change the timing of the reshuffle, Obuchi said to reporters, “I think I will as I’ve been entrusted with the matter.”

The prime minister had been hoping to reshuffle the Cabinet before the Jan. 6-13 trip, noting it would provide more time for new Cabinet members to prepare for the ordinary Diet session scheduled to convene Jan. 19.

He had been widely expected hold the reshuffle on the morning of Jan. 6, just before departing for France, the first leg of his journey.

However, given that joint project teams comprising members of both parties are to hold policy talks the same day, such action is now considered unlikely. The teams are tasked with tackling divisive policy issues that are interfering with plans to form an LDP-Liberal coalition.

During talks between Obuchi and Ozawa held Tuesday night to jump-start the stalled coalition talks, Ozawa expressed strong dissatisfaction over the delay in policy negotiations. “The fundamental thing is that promises made by the prime minister must be implemented,” Ozawa said after meeting with Obuchi. “If the promises are not implemented, there will be no coalition government.”

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