TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering retaining Hiroyuki Hosoda as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution in an upcoming Cabinet shuffles, party sources said.
Abe apparently intends to hasten discussions on his long-cherished amendments to the postwar supreme law by having Hosoda, 74, continue to lead the LDP panel on the issue.
Abe, who was re-elected to his third consecutive term as LDP president on Sept. 20, has begun full-scale work to reshuffle his Cabinet and the party leadership on Oct. 2.
The prime minister held talks with Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the LDP, at his office for about 30 minutes on Sept. 28 after returning from the United States. The pair appears to have exchanged views on the appointment of top party officials and Cabinet ministers. However, Nikai later told reporters, "We never talked about that (personnel issues). It's important to make sure that the prime minister can do as he desires. We just leave the matter to him."
The LDP aims to gain consent from its junior coalition partner Komeito before submitting its constitutional revisions proposal to the Diet. The governing party is also expected to consult with Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and other opposition parties over the issue.
However, Komeito and the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan are reluctant to have such talks with the LDP. Those representing the ruling bloc in both houses' commissions on the Constitution will play a key role in forming consensus between ruling and opposition parties on constitutional reform.
Gen Nakatani, a top legislator representing the ruling coalition in the House of Representatives' panel, attaches particular importance to consultation with opposition parties and supported former party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, who confronted the prime minister on constitutional revision, in the party presidential election. Hajime Funada, deputy head of the LDP's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, cast a blank ballot in the party leadership race because he was opposed to the schedule for constitutional revisions presented by the prime minister.
Legislators close to the prime minister are calling for replacing Nakatani and Funada with someone from their own ranks, saying that the party "should appoint someone who wouldn't give too much consideration to opposition parties" to top positions at the headquarters.
Naoki Okada, who represents the ruling bloc in the upper house panel, will likely be replaced by Junichi Ishida, who is known for his tough negotiations with opposition parties.
There are also calls urging that Masahiko Komura, the LDP vice president who also serves as an adviser to the headquarters, remain in his posts because of his close ties with Komeito deputy leader Kazuo Kitagawa.
(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Tanaka, Political News Department)