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Abe to retain key ministers in Cabinet reshuffle: official

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his office in Tokyo on Sept. 21, 2018. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely retain key ministers in an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle following his re-election as Liberal Democratic Party president, a senior government official said Friday.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, and economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi are likely to remain in their posts, according to the official.

Within the LDP, policy chief Fumio Kishida, who earlier gave up his bid to enter the leadership race, is also likely to stay in the post, the official added.

But Abe is set to replace farm minister Ken Saito, who belongs to an intraparty group led by former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, the sole rival defeated in the LDP leadership race on Thursday, the official said, adding no lawmakers from Ishiba's faction will likely be offered Cabinet posts or key executive positions in the ruling party.

Asked about the reported policy for the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, Ishiba showed displeasure, telling reporters, "We're the same LDP fellows. It's absolutely wrong to judge by who (the candidates) supported and it's not sincere to the country and people."

In a press conference after the LDP election, Abe said he will reshuffle his Cabinet and the party leadership after returning home later this month from New York, where he is scheduled to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

The government is arranging the Cabinet reshuffle on Oct. 1 or 2, the official said.

Abe has indicated he would not appoint Ishiba or his faction members, apparently bearing in mind their differences over an amendment to war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, a key issue in the election campaign, according to the premier's aides.

Saito drew attention by saying at a meeting in Chiba on Sept. 14 he had been "pressured" by a lawmaker backing Abe to write a letter of resignation if he wanted to support Ishiba. But Saito did not specify the lawmaker.

Among other key spots, Abe will likely retain heavyweights such as Finance Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai in the planned reshuffle, according to party sources.

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