National / Politics

Abe to reshuffle Cabinet and LDP executives Sept. 11, with Motegi tipped for foreign minister

Kyodo, JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he will reshuffle his Cabinet and executives in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Sept. 11.

“I will carry out a personnel reshuffle to create a powerful lineup for providing stability and tackling challenges,” Abe said at a meeting of LDP executives Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference after the meeting, LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai expressed his hopes for the party to come together to make an effort to smoothly manage state affairs and live up to people’s expectations.

The first revamp since October 2018 was initially expected for Sept. 10, but Abe apparently took into account his busy diplomatic schedule when deciding on the date.

Abe has a visit to Russia planned later this week for an economic forum and summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Despite major changes being expected for the Cabinet lineup, heavyweights who have supported Abe since his return to power in 2012 — in particular Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso — are expected to keep their portfolios.

Some within the administration expect Abe to reward economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi for his work as the country’s top negotiator in bilateral trade talks with the United States, possibly by installing him in a key post such as foreign minister.

On Monday evening, Abe and Motegi had talks alone at the Prime Minister’s Office for about 40 minutes. “We discussed the domestic and overseas situations,” Motegi told reporters.

The broad accord on bilateral trade was reached soon after the trade talks began in earnest at the ministerial level in April.

“Motegi has made great contributions this time, and the prime minister values that highly,” a government source said.

“He’s likely to be foreign minister,” said an Abe aide.

Meanwhile, some in the government and ruling bloc said Motegi should remain in charge of the trade negotiations until a Japan-U.S. trade deal wins Diet approval.

If the Japanese and U.S. governments sign a trade agreement in September as they hope, the deal would be introduced to the Diet in an extraordinary session expected to start in October. Opposition parties are poised to grill the government on the matter.

Abe is expected to carefully consider options for Motegi, including retaining him in his current post or having him double as foreign minister.

As for Foreign Minister Taro Kono, calls are mounting from within his LDP faction to give him a post within the ruling party.

The fate of Nikai, who has held the party’s secretary-general position for three years, and LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, who is viewed as a possible candidate to succeed Abe, is expected to be the focal point of the shake-up of the party’s executive team.

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