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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking to appoint Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba to a newly created ministerial post for regional revitalization in his reshuffled Cabinet to be announced Wednesday, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported Thursday.

Abe’s placement of the LDP’s No. 2 man in next week’s Cabinet and LDP executive reshuffle has been the subject of intense media debate after Ishiba indicated he would decline to take the post of state minister in charge of security-related legislation — a post the prime minister was widely believed to have wanted Ishiba to hold.

Mainstream media have reporeted that Abe had shown strong displeasure to his aides after Ishiba’s apparent refusal to take the post. Ishiba is seen as a major contender in the next party leadership race.

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