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Following are profiles of the three Liberal Democratic Party executives appointed Sunday by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a shakeup of the LDP executive lineup:

Shinzo Abe

Appointed secretary general of the LDP, Abe had been serving as deputy chief Cabinet secretary since being named to the post in July 2000 by then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

Abe, who turned 49 on Sunday, has been elected to the House of Representatives three times from Yamaguchi Prefecture. He was first elected to the chamber in 1993.

Under common Nagata-cho wisdom, Abe would be too young to serve in the party’s No. 2 post, but his sincere attitude and tough stance in dealing with North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens has provided him a high profile.

It was Abe who decided that the five former abductees who returned last October should stay in Japan despite an earlier plan that they would go back to Pyongyang within two weeks. The returnees and their relatives place great trust in Abe.

As if to confirm that his role as the top government official dealing with the abductions would end, he said on the eve of the LDP presidential election that “the government’s stance on the abduction issue will not change no matter who takes the post” as head of a special government coordinating panel on the abduction issue.

Mitsuo Horiuchi

Horiuchi is being kept on as chairman of the Executive Council, the party’s final decision-making body. The 73-year-old Horiuchi is the only key party executive to retain his post.

Horiuchi, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 from Yamanashi Prefecture, has been elected eight times and is one of the heavyweights in the party.

He formed his own faction in 2001 following a split in the faction led by former LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato, who tried in vain to oust then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori by submitting a no-confidence motion.

Horiuchi has served as trade minister and labor minister and is well-versed in economic affairs.

He has criticized Koizumi’s economic policies, saying the government should put more emphasis on economic recovery by increasing government spending for public works. He has been particularly harsh on Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka for “making the economy worse.”

Fukushiro Nukaga

Appointed chairman of the LDP’s Policy Affairs Research Council, Nukaga has held numerous Cabinet posts, including Defense Agency chief, economic and fiscal policy minister and deputy chief Cabinet secretary.

The 59-year-old Nukaga was first elected to the Lower House in 1983 from Ibaraki Prefecture after serving two terms in the Ibaraki Prefectural Assembly. He was a reporter with the Sankei Shimbun before entering politics.

He is considered a future leader of the LDP’s largest faction, now led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. He is a rival of Takao Fujii, another member of the Hashimoto faction who ran unsuccessfully against Koizumi in Saturday’s LDP presidential election.

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