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The Cabinet should be reshuffled in December to prepare for the consolidation of government ministries and agencies in January, Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori said Wednesday.

Mori’s remarks effectively mean the reshuffle will take place soon after Dec. 1, when an extraordinary Diet session to begin next Thursday is scheduled to end.

“Compilation of the budget for new ministries and agencies should be done under the new ministers and it would make better sense if these new ministers are able to explain (the budget) before the Diet,” he said in an interview at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

On Jan. 6, the government will slash the number of ministries and agencies from 21 to 12 and put them under the control of a Cabinet Office. Compilation of the fiscal 2001 budget, which takes effect April 1, is expected to be finished in late December.

The appointment of the new ministers and their deputies will take a great deal of time and should not be put off until Jan. 6, Mori said.

The date for the reshuffle will be decided after consultations with senior members of the ruling tripartite coalition.

Regarding the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, a measure designed to prop up the economy, Mori said it should rely on as few bond issues as possible.

“The focal point is how to finance the budget,” he said, adding that he would talk to Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa about the matter later in the day.

The government and the ruling parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — decided Tuesday to prepare an auxiliary budget later in the year.

Miyazawa has said the entire 1 trillion yen surplus in the fiscal 1999 general account will be used to help finance the extra budget, which is widely expected to come to 3 trillion yen.

In the meantime, Mori said he has ordered Shizuka Kamei, head of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, to overhaul the way the government spends money for public works during the compilation of the 2001 budget.

Kamei led a recent review of public works projects and judged 233 of them to be unnecessary.

Mori’s order is apparently intended to extend the government’s consolidation efforts to next year’s budget, although he did not say that public works spending should be reduced.

Doi to visit Mongolia

Social Democratic Party leader Takako Doi will visit Mongolia from Saturday for talks with top Mongolian government officials, SDP officials said Wednesday.

Doi will meet President Natsagiin Bagabandi and discuss a plan for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia. She will return to Japan on Wednesday.

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