Japan's Abe appoints key allies to top posts in LDP executive lineup rejig

Xinhua
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday appointed veteran allies close to him to key roles within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Xinhua

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday appointed veteran allies close to him to key roles within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to help bolster historically low public support rates, while balancing factional influences within the party.

The support rate for Abe's cabinet, which will itself be reshuffled later today, has dropped to historic lows of late amid a string of high-profile scandals involving Abe and senior LDP party members.

AFP

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) arrives at his official residence to attend a cabinet meeting in Tokyo on August 3, 2017.

Abe's new executive lineup has, while maintaining his coterie, purportedly added much-needed experience and is ostensibly stable, sources close to the matter have said.

Fumio Kishida, widely believed to be a front-runner to take charge of the ruling party in the future, will chair the party's Policy Research Council having served as Foreign Minister.

Kishida had reportedly told Abe he wanted the senior party post, with sources adding that the experience he will gain from his new position will serve him well in a leadership push in the future.

Masahiko Komura has been retained as vice president and Toshihiro Nikai as secretary general so as to ensure continuity in the party's top echelons.

Such continuity is in a bid to show a united footing when the administration has been publicly criticized as being in scandal-mired disarray, the sources said.

Komura has the ear of a number of the LDP faction's movers-and-shakers and is known to bring lawmakers with disparate opinions over contentious issues together.

This has and will continue to be a boon for Abe who still plans to revise Japan's pacifist Constitution, which remains a highly contentious and divisive issue both in politics and society here.

Since assuming the post of secretary general last year, Nikai, for his part, has been a staunch advocate of Abe and has made no secret of his unwavering support for the prime minister.

He also has the ear of the LDP's junior Komeito coalition ally, which will be essential for Abe ahead of and during the next general election, sources close to the matter said.

LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Wataru Takeshita will now serve as head of the party's decision-making General Council and Hiroshi Moriyama, former agriculture minister, will assume Takeshita's former position in the Diet Affairs Committee.

Former education minister Ryu Shionoya, meanwhile, will chair the party's Election Strategy Committee.

Of note in the selection of his new executive lineup, is the fact that Abe has assigned roles to appease all major LDP party factions.

He has achieved this by appointing the top roles to their members, with each of the five top factions now being represented by either the vice president or the four next most important posts, political watchers pointed out Thursday.

Abe's top executive lineup, likely in contrast to his cabinet to be announced later today, still contains no female leaders, however.

This has been the case during Abe's tenure and in contradiction to his own "womenomics" policy of ensuring patriarchal Japan would reverse by-gone traditions and elevate women to positions of power both in politics and business.

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