• Kyodo, Staff Report

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Ahead of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned reshuffle of his Cabinet on Wednesday, more names were put forward Tuesday for top ministerial posts.

Sources said Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Tomomi Inada will be handed the defense portfolio, which would make her only Japan’s second female defense chief after Yuriko Koike, who was elected Tokyo governor on Sunday.

Inada is known to hold views similar to Abe’s on security and foreign policy, and is a regular visitor to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, where convicted war criminals are enshrined along with millions of war dead.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko is to be appointed trade minister, while Jun Matsumoto, acting chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, may also land a Cabinet position, the sources said.

Meanwhile, sources close to regional revitalization minister Shigeru Ishiba said he will decline any ministerial post offered to him in the reshuffle in a move seen widely as preparation to succeed Abe as party leader.

Ishiba, a veteran LDP member known for his in-depth knowledge of military affairs and agricultural policy, was Abe’s rival in the 2012 LDP presidential election.

He launched his own faction within the party last year with an eye toward becoming the party’s next president.

Abe’s aides have asked Ishiba to stay in the Cabinet, but he has reportedly said, “I want the public to know that there are various views inside the LDP.”

In other Cabinet posts, economic and fiscal policy minister Nobuteru Ishihara, internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi, as well as minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki are expected to retain their posts, other sources said.

Olympics minister Toshiaki Endo is also expected to stay on, the sources said.

Other names being floated for Cabinet posts include the LDP’s Koichi Yamamoto, Masahiro Imamura, Hirokazu Matsuno and Yosuke Tsuruho, the sources said.

Within the LDP, Abe has decided to appoint Election Strategy Committee Chairman Toshimitsu Motegi as chairman of the party’s Policy Research Council, replacing Inada, sources said Monday.

Abe initially planned to offer Motegi a ministerial post but later decided to appoint him as head of the Policy Research Council because he has expertise in various areas. The government is currently facing a range of issues, from economic revitalization to Abe’s goal of revising the Constitution.

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