National / Politics

Abe's top lieutenants set to retain slots in post-election Cabinet reshuffle

Kyodo

Key members close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, including Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, are likely to retain their posts in a Cabinet reshuffle that is planned for September, according to ruling lawmakers.

Abe sees the contributions of Aso, who doubles as finance minister, and top government spokesman Suga as vital in implementing October’s scheduled consumption tax hike and in continuing his policies to spur economic growth as he pledged in the Upper House election campaign, the lawmakers said Monday.

The ruling coalition led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito secured a majority in Sunday’s House of Councilors election. However, the prime minister’s goal to revise the war-renouncing Constitution appears out of reach as he will lack sufficient votes to initiate the process.

Aso, a former prime minister, is a longtime close friend of Abe, and Suga, who announced the new era name Reiwa for the accession of Emperor Naruhito in May, is seen as his right-hand man.

Both Aso and Suga have served in their posts since the current administration assumed the reins of government in December 2012 when the LDP returned to power.

A senior official of the Abe government indicated that key members are expected to stay in the new Cabinet to be launched in mid-September.

Echoing the view, Abe himself told a news conference Monday that the two have supported the Cabinet as its main pillars.

With regard to LDP leadership, one focus has been whether Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai will retain his post. Abe also spoke highly of Nikai’s contribution during the Upper House election.

The LDP customarily changes its party leadership when the Cabinet is reshuffled, with some members switching from one to the other.

Meanwhile, the LDP plans to pick former Vice President Akiko Santo as president of the Upper House, the ruling lawmakers said. Santo won her eighth term as an Upper House lawmaker in Sunday’s elections.

Abe said an extraordinary Diet session will be convened Aug. 1 to elect the new president of the Upper House. The president will be picked from the LDP, which maintained its position as the chamber’s leading party.