Japan: After sweeping party poll, Yoshihide Suga reshuffles LDP leadership

WION Web Team
Tokyo, Japan Updated: Sep 15, 2020, 03:08 PM(IST)

Yoshihide Suga Photograph:( Reuters )

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Suga is planning to appoint Katsunobu Kato as the next chief cabinet secretary while retaining other key cabinet ministers and party officials in their posts, as he had promised.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is set to become the country's next prime minister, is mulling to reshuffle his cabinet after winning a landslide victory in a ruling party leadership election due to which 

Suga is planning to appoint Katsunobu Kato as the next chief cabinet secretary while retaining other key cabinet ministers and party officials in their posts, as he had promised.

Also read| Japan: Yoshihide Suga wins party leadership race, headed for premiership

The 71-year-old faces a vast array of challenges, including tackling COVID-19 while reviving a battered economy and dealing with a rapidly aging society in which nearly a third of the population is older than 65.

Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi are likely to stay in their positions, according to multiple media reports. Yasutoshi Nishimura is likely to be reappointed as economy minister.

Defence Minister Taro Kono is seen becoming interior minister and Nobuo Kishi, an LDP lawmaker who is Abe's younger brother, will take up the defence portfolio, Kyodo news agency said.

Toshihiro Nikai, who was instrumental in helping Suga cement the support of LDP members and was re-appointed as the party's secretary-general, told a news conference that the top priority is dealing with the coronavirus, a view echoed by party policy chief Hakubun Shimomura.

"We will do everything we can to secure the vaccines and the medications to protect the people's lives and health, as well as support medical institutions," said Shimomura, a former education minister, adding that reviving the economy would be given nearly equal weight.

Suga may name Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, who has become well known to the public as the face of Japan's efforts to tackle the coronavirus, as chief cabinet secretary, Nippon TV said. Kato is close to Suga, under whom he served as deputy chief cabinet secretary.

"Many different elements are needed," Suga said on Monday when asked about who should replace him. "One is their fit with the prime minister, but thinking about it overall, they also need to have broad strengths, that will be the most calming."

Suga is virtually certain to be elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday because of the LDP's lower-house majority. He will serve out Abe's term as party leader through September 2021.

Known more for his work behind the scenes, Suga emerged as favourite to replace Abe, Japan's longest-serving premier, after Abe said last month he would resign because of ill health.

There is widespread speculation that Suga could take advantage of strong support ratings to dissolve the lower house of parliament and call snap elections to earn a full three-year term as LDP head, but he appears wary.

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