Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe is considering Foreign Minister Taro Aso and senior party colleague Hidenao Nakagawa as candidates for secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party if he becomes its next president, LDP sources have said.
Abe is expected to win his party’s Sept. 20 presidential election in a landslide, replacing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as head of the dominant LDP and thus as prime minister later this month.
In the anticipated Abe administration, former labor minister Akira Amari and Senior Vice Foreign Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki are expected to become Cabinet members, the sources said.
From the LDP’s coalition partner, New Komeito, Secretary General Tetsuzo Fuyushiba will likely get a Cabinet appointment, they added.
Abe plans to choose his Cabinet and party leadership lineup by taking into account his personal relations with colleagues and the principle of striking a balance among supporters from various groups, including generation-based groups and conventional party factions, the sources said.
He has indicated he would not emphasize the traditional party practice of factions presenting lists of candidates for the Cabinet and other key posts as he has obtained broad support from party lawmakers across the board, ranging from junior members to veterans.
Nakagawa, who now heads the party’s Policy Research Council, has been considered the top candidate for secretary general because Abe regards the senior member of the faction he belongs to as a linchpin for the party, the sources said.
However, it is also possible that Abe could pick Aso with a view to attaining a good performance in the Upper House election next summer under the leadership of a man who is better known as one of Abe’s rivals in the party presidential race.
If Aso becomes secretary general, Nakagawa will likely retain his current post, the sources said.
If Nakagawa is tapped for secretary general, Aso may be either remain as foreign minister or become Policy Research Council chairman, they said.
As for chairman of the party’s decision-making General Council, the options are either to retain Fumio Kyuma or name a veteran lawmaker such as former labor minister Bummei Ibuki, they said.
Meanwhile, at least five people are considered as candidates for chief Cabinet secretary, who plays right-hand man to the prime minister.
They include Shiozaki, former Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Nobuteru Ishihara, economic and fiscal policy minister Kaoru Yosano, former Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda.
Machimura and Hosoda are members of Abe’s faction, the largest, led by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
Yosano, who doubles as financial services minister, and Hakuo Yanagisawa, who chairs the LDP Research Commission on the tax system, are viewed as possible candidates for finance minister.
Amari is said most likely to be named economy, trade and industry minister, and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jinen Nagase may be picked as health, labor and welfare minister, the sources said.
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