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Abe mulls Cabinet lineup with allies in key posts

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his office in Tokyo, on Sept. 10, 2019. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely entrust his allies of similar political views with key Cabinet posts in charge of education and economic affairs, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday, a day before he carries out a personnel reshuffle.

    The emerging makeup of the new Cabinet that Abe is set to form Wednesday includes Koichi Hagiuda, executive acting secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party as education minister and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura as economic revitalization minister, according to the sources.

    Isshu Sugawara, an LDP lawmaker who once served as a senior vice finance minister, is tipped to become the next trade minister amid a bilateral dispute with South Korea over Japan's tighter export controls.

    Abe is also considering giving a Cabinet post to Shinjiro Koizumi, a rising political star and son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in the reshuffle, the sources said.

    Abe is aiming to maintain stability by keeping his allies close within the government or the party leadership, particularly after the LDP-Komeito coalition secured a solid result in the July upper house race.

    He now stands a good chance of becoming the country's longest-serving prime minister in November, making it more likely he will advance efforts toward achieving constitutional change, a long-cherished goal of the leader and the LDP.

    Katsunobu Kato, currently chairman of the LDP's decision-making General Council, is expected to be reinstalled as health minister, the sources said. Abe's special adviser Seiichi Eto will likely serve as minister spearheading Japan's efforts to address the declining birthrate and encourage active participation in society of its citizens.

    Among other key ministerial posts, Foreign Minister Taro Kono is expected to become defense minister, while Abe has already made up his mind to name current economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi as foreign minister.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, are set to retain their posts, which they have been held since Abe returned to power in late 2012.

    Katsuyuki Kawai, Abe's special aide on foreign affairs, will likely become justice minister, while Sanae Takaichi is expected to take up the post of internal affairs minister again, the sources said.

    Former senior vice finance minister Kazunori Tanaka is also among candidates expected to assume a Cabinet post.

    Abe will revamp the LDP leadership team on Wednesday morning before the Cabinet reshuffle, with trade minister Hiroshige Seko likely to become secretary general of the ruling party's upper house caucus, according to the sources.

    Former education minister Hakubun Shimomura, who now heads the LDP's panel on promoting constitutional reform, is expected to assume the post of election chief.

    Former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada is expected to take over from Hagiuda as executive acting secretary general, the sources said.

    Abe is set to keep the backbone of the LDP executive team, retaining Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai and policy chief Fumio Kishida. Olympics minister Shunichi Suzuki will be an addition to the lineup as chairman of the General Council.

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