Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is set to reshuffle his Cabinet on Monday, according to LDP lawmakers.
The expected reshuffle will come two days after Koizumi’s anticipated re-election as president of the Liberal Democratic Party.
The main focus of interest will be on who replaces ailing Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa and whether Koizumi retains Heizo Takenaka, who concurrently serves as financial services minister and economic and fiscal policy minister.
When asked about the reshuffle, Koizumi repeated his refrain that he will fill the Cabinet only with ministers who are committed to implementing reforms.
Initially, there was speculation that Koizumi may launch his new Cabinet as early as on Sunday. However, he is likely to delay the move by one day in line with suggestions from LDP elders that he should listen more thoroughly to opinions within the party.
The post of foreign minister is likely to be up for grabs, but Koizumi plans to retain LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, an LDP source said earlier.
On another front, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and LDP policy chief Taro Aso stepped up pressure on Koizumi to replace both Yamasaki and Takenaka.
Mori and other party elders are against Yamasaki because of his reported extramarital affairs.
Among names floated as new faces in the next Cabinet are Hidehisa Otsuji from the LDP, formerly senior vice finance minister, and Kiyoko Ono, also an LDP lawmaker who was formerly an executive of the Japanese Olympic Committee.
Yasuhisa Shiozaki is also among the candidates for a ministerial post; some LDP lawmakers, including Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, rate the former Bank of Japan employee’s knowledge of the financial sector highly.
If Koizumi does decide on a reshuffle, all Cabinet members are expected to submit resignation letters to him Monday morning.
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