National / Politics

Abe weighs Sept. 10 Cabinet reshuffle amid speculation over post for Shinjiro Koizumi

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may reshuffle his Cabinet and Liberal Democratic Party leadership team on Sept. 10, government and party sources have said.

The focus of the shake-up will be on whether LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai will be retained and whether rising star Shinjiro Koizumi, who now heads the party’s health, labor and welfare division, will get a ministerial post for the first time.

Abe, also president of the party, met with LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday. When asked whether they talked about personnel issues, Kishida did not deny discussing such matters.

“We talked about many things,” Kishida said.

Abe is considering making party leadership appointments on Sept. 10, after returning from Vladivostok, Russia, and reshuffling his Cabinet later in the day, the sources said Friday.

Abe’s third-consecutive and final three-year term as LDP president is set to end in September 2021.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who have supported Abe within the Cabinet since the prime minister returned to power in December 2012, are likely to be reappointed, the sources said.

Nikai has also supported the Abe administration, such as by leading pushes to revise LDP rules so that presidents of the party can serve for three straight terms since he became secretary-general in August 2016. But he has become a divisive figure in the party due to his practice of enlarging his faction by bringing in former opposition lawmakers.

Some in the party expect Nikai to be appointed LDP vice president.

Kishida is viewed as a possible alternative to Nikai as secretary-general. He is also regarded as a potential candidate to succeed Abe, although his reputation took a hit after four members of his intraparty faction lost their seats in the July election for the Upper House.

Koizumi, in his fourth term as a member of the Lower House, has national appeal and is often put forward as a future candidate for party leadership. His appointment to the Cabinet would likely give the Abe administration a boost, sources said.

But Koizumi has kept his distance from Abe and the prime minister is also believed to be cautious about giving the young politician a Cabinet position.