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Industry minister Hagiuda eyed for LDP policy chief in reshuffle

Industry minister of Japan, Koichi Hagiuda. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering appointing industry minister Koichi Hagiuda to the post of Policy Research Council chief at the Liberal Democratic Party in a planned revamp of ruling party executives, senior administration officials said Tuesday.

    Hagiuda, known as a close aide to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was killed by a gunman last month, has expressed his hope to stay on as industry minister in the reshuffle of the Cabinet and LDP executives planned for Wednesday.

    Regarding other senior posts within the LDP, Hiroshi Moriyama, who supported former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga with LDP heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai, will likely be put in charge of the election strategy committee, the officials said.

    Toshiaki Endo, the current election chief, is expected to be tapped as General Council chairman, they added.

    So far, Kishida has decided to retain LDP Vice President Taro Aso and Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, as well as Diet affairs chief Tsuyoshi Takagi, in an apparent bid to ensure stability.

    "We are confronted with major challenges unseen in the postwar era and unity among the government and the ruling parties is more important than ever," Kishida told a press conference in Nagasaki, where he attended a ceremony to mark the 77th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city.

    The personnel revamp will be the first since the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito clinched a sweeping victory in the House of Councillors election on July 10.

    Kishida cited COVID-19, rising inflation, Russia's war in Ukraine and a spike in tensions across the Taiwan Strait as pressing issues that need to be tackled.

    The LDP has been rocked by the killing of Abe during campaigning ahead of the upper house election. The assailant has said he holds a grudge against the Unification Church and believes the former prime minister had ties with the religious group, according to investigative sources.

    Kishida has asked all Cabinet ministers to check and clarify any links to the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, to dispel public doubts about its relationship with politicians.

    "It is a prerequisite for new Cabinet members and party executives to check and strictly review ties with the group in question," Kishida said.

    The prime minister has seen public support for his Cabinet slip in media polls amid controversy over the Unification Church and a state funeral in September for Abe, the country's longest-serving prime minister.

    Followers of the Unification Church have been arrested in Japan and received court orders in connection with money illegally obtained from people through the use of threats, including the citing of "ancestral karma."

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