Abe plans to appoint Shinjiro Koizumi, a rising political star touted as a future leader, as environment minister in his first ministerial post. KYODO Photo
TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to carry out a major reshuffle of his Cabinet on Wednesday as Japan is faced with a host of challenges such as the impact of a planned consumption tax increase slated for October 1.
In a move to replace 17 of 19 ministers in Abe's Cabinet, the shake-up - the first since October - comes after Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner the Komeito party secured a victory in the upper house election in the summer.
In an apparent bid to boost public support for his government, Abe plans to appoint Shinjiro Koizumi, a rising political star touted as a future leader, as environment minister in his first ministerial post.
In explaining the purpose of his revamp, Abe has said he would like to form a new team that can ensure political "stability" and tackle new "challenges".
Abe will keep familiar faces who have been key members of his team since his 2012 return to power - Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Abe plans to shift Foreign Minister Taro Kono to defence minister, while economic revitalisation minister Toshimitsu Motegi is likely to become the nation's top diplomat.
Kono and Motegi are expected to play a central role in Abe's security team when no immediate end is in sight to sharply deteriorating ties between Japan and South Korea over wartime history and trade policy.
Abe is likely to appoint his confidants to Cabinet posts, installing Koichi Hagiuda, executive acting secretary general of the LDP, as education minister and Katsuyuki Kawai, a special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs, as justice minister.
As part of his government's efforts to promote women's empowerment, Abe plans to name Seiko Hashimoto, a House of Councillors lawmaker who is a former speed skater, as minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
From Komeito, Kazuyoshi Akaba is set to replace fellow party member Keiichi Ishii as minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.
After the election victory and relatively solid public support, Abe has a good chance of becoming Japan's longest-serving prime minister in November.
With his term as LDP president and thus prime minister ending in 2021, Abe appears eager to accelerate work toward attaining his long-cherished goal of making a first-ever amendment to the Constitution.
In the morning, Abe will also shuffle the LDP executive lineup, although he will keep its core members - Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai and policy chief Fumio Kishida - in their current posts.
Abe is set to pick Olympics minister Shunichi Suzuki as chairman of the party's General Council and former education minister Hakubun Shimomura as head of the Election Strategy Committee. — KYODO