• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has indicated that he plans to reshuffle his Cabinet and name a new roster of top executives in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party when their current term expires next Monday.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him Monday to the Asia-Europe summit, Koizumi warned against speculation of a major reshuffle but hinted he may replace some of his economic ministers.

Koizumi, who doubles as LDP president, said he will not extend the one-year term of his top LDP executives and dismissed speculation he would attempt to ride his recent surge in the opinion polls by calling a snap general election.

“This is absolutely not something that is on my mind,” he said.

Koizumi said he will confer with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and top LDP executives when he returns to Tokyo on Wednesday and give them an outline of what he plans to do under a reconstituted Cabinet.

Citing his legislative agenda and budget plans for the new fiscal year, Koizumi said, “I will tell them that I will offer the top three party executive posts and Cabinet positions to those who will go along with my plans.”

Koizumi, who heads a three-way coalition with New Komeito and the New Conservative Party, said he also plans to speak with the leaders of his two coalition partners before making up his mind on the Cabinet roster.

Koizumi said he would not accept recommendations for Cabinet posts from LDP faction leaders, maintaining the stand he took when he first entered office in April 2001.

The prime minister insisted that ministers who serve in his Cabinet would have to support his reform initiatives, and said he would ignore pressure from within his party to replace Cabinet ministers who are not Diet members, saying, “That is what those people who expect a large-scale reshuffle want.”

Referring to the re-election Monday of Yukio Hatoyama as leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, Koizumi challenged Hatoyama to present the nation with a “constructive” policy platform.

“They should say, ‘this is what we will do if we take over the government,’ ” Koizumi said of his Diet opponents.

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