National / Politics

Abe expected to replace Komeito land minister and may add two women to new Cabinet lineup

JIJI

When he reshuffles his Cabinet on Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to replace land minister Keiichi Ishii, a member of Komeito, and may give House of Councilors member Junko Mihara a Cabinet post.

Ishii’s replacement would be in line with the wishes of his party, as expressed by Komeito President Natsuo Yamaguchi at a meeting with Abe on Friday, it was learned the same day.

Within Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, some members say the Cabinet post should go to another Komeito member because Ishii has been in the post since October 2015.

“It’s too long,” a senior member said. “It’s desirable to let as many party colleagues as possible experience a Cabinet job.”

Mihara, director of the LDP’s Women’s Affairs Division, may join the Cabinet for the first time. She is a high-profile lawmaker, along with Seiko Hashimoto, former LDP leader in the House of Councilors, who is viewed as a candidate for minister for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The potential moves could be a reflection of the Abe administration’s womenomics policy aimed at empowering women. Only one woman is in Abe’s current Cabinet.

Speculation is increasing that LDP General Council Chairman Katsunobu Kato, who is close to Abe, may rejoin the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, some are calling for Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko to be retained in order to avoid sending the wrong message to South Korea over Japan’s tightening of export controls.

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