Japan Pm Prepares To Shift Some Key Ministers

Japan PM prepares to shift some key ministers

Japan's prime minister is set to reshuffle his cabinet and executives of his Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday. Sources say Shinzo Abe will retain some key members of both lineups, while bringing in a number of fresh faces.

Abe will reshuffle the party leadership Wednesday morning and his cabinet in the afternoon.

These are the first shakeups since July's Upper House election. At that time, the ruling coalition lost seats, but maintained a healthy majority.

Sources say Abe is planning a new position for Toshimitsu Motegi. He's already made a name for himself in international circles, working as the minister in care of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a Japan-US trade deal. Now, he's slated to be Japan's new foreign minister, taking over from Taro Kono. In turn, Kono is expected to become the new defense minister.

Abe is keeping in place two cabinet heavyweights. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will retain the portfolios they've held since Abe returned to power in 2012.

New to the cabinet is Shinjiro Koizumi, who will take over as environment minister. He's a young rising star in the LDP, and the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Isshu Sugawara is another newcomer. He's set to take up the portfolio of economy, trade and industry minister.

Abe is also expected to install more of his close aides as first-time ministers. Katsuyuki Kawai is pegged for the role of justice minister.

Koichi Hagiuda will become the minister in charge of education, culture, sports, science and technology, while Taku Eto will oversee agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Kazuyoshi Akaba is the only pick from the LDP's junior coalition partner, Komeito. He will be in charge of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.

Another potential fresh face should be familiar to Japanese sports fans. Seiko Hashimoto is a former speed skater and Olympic medalist. She's being considered as the minister in charge of next year's Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As for the lineup at the LDP headquarters, Abe is to keep 2 top party influencers in key policy roles. Toshihiro Nikai will stay on as secretary-general, while Fumio Kishida will remain as policy research council chief. Kishida is seen as a prospective successor to Abe as LDP president.

When Shunichi Suzuki vacates his post as Olympics minister, he's slated to move to party leadership. He's set to become the chairperson of the LDP's decision-making General Council.

Abe is on his way to becoming the country's longest-serving prime minister this November. He is scheduled to hold a news conference later on Wednesday.