Shigeru Ishiba, minister in charge of overcoming the population decline and vitalizing local economies, will not take any ministerial post when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffles his Cabinet, government sources said.
Ishiba, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) heavyweight, made up his mind to leave the Cabinet and notified Prime Minister Abe of his decision on Aug. 1.
Abe had offered several Cabinet posts to Ishiba and tried to persuade him to stay in his Cabinet. However, Ishiba told the prime minister, "I'd like to support the Abe Cabinet as a rank-and-file member of the party instead of remaining in the Cabinet," according to the sources. Ishiba has been tipped as a possible future successor to Abe as prime minister.
Prime Minister Abe is poised to appoint LDP Acting Secretary-General Hiroyuki Hosoda as chairman of the LDP's top decision-making General Council and chief election strategist Toshimitsu Motegi as head of the party's Policy Research Council.
The prime minister is considering retaining Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi and Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Nobuteru Ishihara.
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii, a member of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, will also stay on at the request of Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi.
Prime Minister Abe earlier decided to retain other key ministers -- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
Abe will appoint Tomomi Inada, head of the LDP Policy Research Council, to his Cabinet, while retaining LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura.
The prime minister had attempted to persuade LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki, who has been left injured following a bicycle accident, to stay on at his post but abandoned his efforts because there are no clear prospects that the secretary-general can return to work at an early date. Abe then decided to appoint LDP General Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai as the successor of Tanigaki.