Most of the main Cabinet ministers are expected to retain their posts in Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reshuffle Monday, coalition sources said Sunday.
The expected shakeup of the 17-member Cabinet will be the first since Koizumi took office in April 2001. Though the moves may be minor, Koizumi has reportedly broken with tradition by refusing recommendations to appease party factions.
However, the main focus seems to be on Financial Services Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa, who has openly opposed a move to inject public funds into banks despite the backing of the policy by Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa and other ministers.
Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, pointed out that Koizumi’s basic policy for the Cabinet reshuffle includes accelerating the disposal of nonperforming loans. Yamasaki said on a television program Sunday, “Whether Financial Services Minister Yanagisawa can comply with the policy or not is an important point regarding his political fate.”
Among the list of ministers expected to retain their posts are Shiokawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and Toranosuke Katayama, minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications.
Also likely to stay are Chikara Sakaguchi, minister of health, labor and welfare; economic minister Heizo Takenaka and Chikage Ogi, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, according to the sources.
Among the possible newcomers is Yoshitada Konoike, chairman of the LDP’s Diet Affairs of the Upper House. Koizumi has apparently decided to pick one more lawmaker from the Upper House besides Katayama.
Two deputy chief Cabinet secretaries — Shinzo Abe and Kosei Ueno — are also expected to stay, the sources said.
Yamasaki speculated that Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi is also likely to retain her post.
Stating that diplomacy by top leaders, such as Koizumi, should be a measure of last resort and that a strong support system of capable individuals is crucial, Yamasaki said, “In that sense, Mrs. Kawaguchi is excellent and competent.”
On the topic of younger lawmakers being appointed to Cabinet posts, Yamasaki appeared doubtful, saying: “The prime minister himself represents that image. It is more important to create a system emphasizing the prime minister’s leadership.”
But Yamasaki hinted that Koizumi may make unexpected choices in the new appointments.
A Cabinet reshuffle and any subsequent progress on economic reforms are seen as crucial to solidifying his support and completing resolving the more critical tasks of his administration.
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