National / Politics

Future prime minister hopeful Shinjiro Koizumi in the frame for Abe's Cabinet reshuffle

Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering giving Shinjiro Koizumi, a son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a role in his new Cabinet on Wednesday, according to sources.

The nomination of Koizumi, 38, who ranks highly in public polls as a potential candidate for future prime minister, would make him the third-youngest lawmaker to be appointed to a senior position since the end of the war, according to NHK.

Koizumi, who made headlines last month when he announced his engagement to TV personality Christel Takigawa, was initially thought unlikely to make the Cabinet, as he had said he wishes to take paternity leave after the expected birth of their first child early next year.

More details emerged Tuesday about the lineup, which is likely to include lawmakers close to Abe, such as Koichi Hagiuda, executive deputy secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, who sources say is tapped to be the new education minister.

In his first Cabinet revamp in almost 12 months, Abe is considering naming Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura, a member of the ruling party who has also worked closely with the prime minister, as the next economic revitalization minister, according to the sources.

The emerging set of candidates suggests Abe is aiming to maintain stability by retaining allies who share his conservative political views close within the government and the party leadership, particularly after the LDP-Komeito coalition’s result in the July Upper House election.

Abe now stands a good chance of becoming the country’s longest-serving prime minister in November, and he and the LDP are likely to advance efforts toward achieving constitutional change, a long-cherished goal of both the leader and the party.

Among other key ministerial posts, Abe is planning to appoint Foreign Minister Taro Kono as defense minister, according to the sources. He has already made up his mind to name current economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi as foreign minister and retain Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as well as Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, the sources said.

Katsuyuki Kawai, Abe’s special aide on foreign affairs, may become justice minister, while Sanae Takaichi, a former internal affairs minister, and Seiichi Eto, a special adviser to the prime minister, are also likely to enter the Cabinet, the sources said.

Katsunobu Kato, who had served as health minister, is seen as a probably candidate for a portfolio encompassing economic issues.

LDP lawmakers Isshu Sugawara and Kazunori Tanaka, both former senior vice finance ministers, are also among Cabinet candidates, the sources said.

Taku Eto, special adviser to the prime minister, is expected to become agriculture minister, the first ministerial post for him.

Abe will also revamp the LDP leadership team Wednesday morning before the Cabinet reshuffle, with trade minister Hiroshige Seko likely to become secretary general of the LDP’s Upper House caucus, according to the sources.

Former education minister Hakubun Shimomura, who now heads the LDP’s panel on promoting constitutional reform, is expected to assume the post of election chief.

Former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada is expected to take over from Hagiuda as executive deputy secretary general, the sources said.

LDP lawmaker Seigo Kitamura is also expected to be among the Cabinet lineup, according to NHK reports.

Still, Abe is set to keep the backbone of the LDP executive team, retaining Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai and policy chief Fumio Kishida. Olympics minister Shunichi Suzuki will be added to the lineup as chairman of the General Council, the party’s decision-making body.

Ahead of the end of his final term of office as LDP president in September 2021, Abe aims to maintain his clout by giving key ministerial portfolios to potential candidates to be his successor, pundits said.

Hagiuda has a political stance close to that of Abe and is trusted by the prime minister. He plays a key role in communications between the LDP and the government.

Nishimura is considered to be a promising lawmaker from the LDP faction led by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, to which Abe belongs. He has worked at the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry, now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and is well versed in policies covered by the defunct and current ministries.

Kato is a close aide to Abe, having served in such posts as deputy chief Cabinet secretary and health, labor and welfare minister.