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The government plans to appoint Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba as the new national security adviser, government sources said Saturday, in a step that is likely to give the Foreign Ministry more say in diplomacy and security policies.

Akiba, a close aide to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his predecessor Shinzo Abe, will replace Shigeru Kitamura, a former National Police Agency official, as head of Japan’s National Security Secretariat, the sources said.

Takeo Akiba | KYODO
Takeo Akiba | KYODO

The secretariat assists the National Security Council, which was launched by Abe in 2013 as the command base for Japan’s foreign and security policies. Under Abe’s administration, the Prime Minister’s Office spearheaded matters of diplomacy.

With the latest personnel change, the country’s top national security post will be held again by a diplomat after nearly two years.

Takeo Mori, senior deputy minister for foreign affairs, is likely to succeed Akiba, according to the sources. Shigeo Yamada, 56, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau, will assume Mori’s current post.

The appointments will be decided at a Cabinet meeting in the near future.

Akiba, 62, became senior vice foreign minister in January 2018 and has been responsible for behind-the-scene negotiations with the United States and China, among other tasks. He was involved in drawing up major diplomatic strategies, including the concept of a mutually beneficial strategic partnership between Japan and China and the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” initiative.

Prior to that, he was senior deputy minister for foreign affairs and director-general of the ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau. He is Japan’s longest-serving vice foreign minister in the postwar period.

Kitamura, 64, became head of the secretariat in September 2019, replacing Shotaro Yachi. Yachi was a former vice foreign minister who became the first head of the secretariat.

Kitamura served as an executive secretary to Abe during his first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

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