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Abe set to retain Komeito member Ishii as land minister, replace Takaichi, Inada

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii (Mainichi)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to retain Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii, a member of junior ruling coalition partner Komeito, when he reshuffles his Cabinet on Aug. 3, sources close to his administration said.

However, Sanae Takaichi, who became the longest-serving internal affairs and communications minister in June, will likely be replaced. Moreover, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, who has come under fire over a gaffe during the campaign for the July 2 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, and Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda, who made inconsistent statements during Diet deliberations on Japan's so-called "anti-conspiracy bill," will also be replaced.

Calls have arisen from within the Abe government to replace Inada with a figure who can stably fulfill their duty, with previous defense ministers included as candidates.

Abe intends to retain Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in his Cabinet or appoint him to a key post in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Kishida said he will continue to back the Abe government.

"When the party and the administration are struggling, I must support the government," the foreign minister said.

Abe, leader of the LDP, met with Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief of Komeito, at the prime minister's office on July 21 and explained that he wants to "radically change public sentiment" by reshuffling his Cabinet.

Following the meeting, Yamaguchi told reporters, "We'd like to recommend a member who is suited to support the reshuffled Cabinet," adding that he will convey his party's wish to the prime minister by the end of this month.

However, Komeito will not hold a convention this year to determine its appointments of top officials, and there have been no calls within the party to replace Ishii.

The Komeito leader has given a high appraisal of Ishii's performance as land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister.

"He has sincerely and appropriately responded to questions in Diet deliberations and performed his duties in the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. He's been highly appreciated in and out of the Cabinet," Yamaguchi said.

Prime Minister Abe said on July 9 that the Cabinet framework "should not be changed over and over again," and declared that he will retain Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Regarding the reshuffle of the LDP leadership, Abe is poised to retain Vice President Masahiko Komura and Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai.

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