Defense Minister Akinori Eto will decline an offer to retain his position in the post-election Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, sources at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Tuesday, adding former defense chief Gen Nakatani is seen as a likely replacement.
Abe is expected to be elected prime minister at a Diet session to be convened Wednesday. He would then immediately inaugurate his Cabinet. The other ministers are expected to be reappointed, the sources said.
Abe is set to accept the decision by Eto, who joined Abe’s revamped Cabinet when it launched Sept. 3, according to the sources.
Just days after assuming the post, Eto, 59, found himself under fire over the revelation of a sum of ¥3.5 million posted in his political funds report as a “donation” to himself from his campaign funds management body, which opposition lawmakers alleged is banned under law. He corrected the report, saying it was a clerical mistake.
Besides Nakatani, 57, also floated as Eto’s successor are Takeshi Iwaya, a 57-year-old former senior vice foreign minister, and Yoshimasa Hayashi, a 53-year-old former defense minister, according to the sources.
Abe, 60, is the president of the LDP, which commands a majority in the Diet with its coalition partner, Komeito, after a landslide victory in the Dec. 14 general election. Lawmakers are scheduled to pick the prime minister in a three-day special session that starts Wednesday.
He is believed to be considering moving the portfolio of consumer affairs and food safety to the minister in charge of Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, Shunichi Yamaguchi, 64, from women’s empowerment minister Haruko Arimura, 44, according to the sources.