• Kyodo

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The Liberal Democratic Party is planning to hold its triennial presidential election on Sept. 20, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected to secure re-election without opposition, a senior LDP official said Tuesday.

The Sept. 20 election may be officially promulgated on Sept. 8 before Abe’s LDP presidential term expires at the end of September.

Following the LDP race, Abe is considering reshuffling party executives and his Cabinet in October, senior LDP lawmakers said.

The envisaged reshuffles, however, are likely to be minor given the need to ensure continuity in running the administration with an Upper House election scheduled for summer next year, the lawmakers said.

It is widely expected that Abe will retain Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki, they said.

With a reshuffled Cabinet and LDP leadership, Abe plans to attend an extra Diet session that would be convened in late October.

The LDP leadership election will come during the current legislative session as the Diet voted Monday to extend it until Sept. 27 to secure passage of Abe’s controversial national security bills.

With Japan calling for reform of the U.N. Security Council, Abe plans to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York in late September. The general debate at the assembly, which will bring together leaders of U.N. member states, will start Sept. 28.

In the LDP, mid-level lawmakers who are eager to serve in ministerial posts have been calling for a major Cabinet reshuffle.

But others argue Abe should leave key Cabinet posts unchanged given the need for continuity in tackling major issues, such as the planned relocation of the Futenma military base in Okinawa Prefecture and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.

They said the prime minister should retain Suga, who is handling the Okinawa base issue, TPP minister Akira Amari and Taro Aso, deputy prime minister and finance minister and one of Abe’s closest allies.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida should be retained as well, they said, because Abe wants to promote diplomacy with Russia given a planned visit to Japan by President Vladimir Putin this year.

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