Embattled Abe reshuffles his cabinet

Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a major cabinet reshuffle Monday, shifting his foreign minister to a top party job as part of a shake-up aimed at salvaging his government.

Embattled Abe reshuffles his cabinet

Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a major cabinet reshuffle Monday, shifting his foreign minister to a top party job as part of a shake-up aimed at salvaging his government.


Laying the groundwork for the day's moves, he appointed a new team to lead his Liberal Democratic Party by naming Foreign Minister Taro Aso to the job of secretary general, its top position after the premier.

Aso is seen as popular within the LDP, which is reeling after last month losing control of the upper house of parliament for the first time since the party was founded in 1955.

The premier was expected to opt for safety in the reshuffle in the face of record low approval ratings and calls from backbenchers to stand down after the election defeat, which followed a series of scandals involving members of the outgoing cabinet.

The conservative premier has refused to go, insisting voters supported his ideas and were upset by the scandals.

Aso said the party had to win back a disillusioned public but faced tough times ahead with one chamber controlled by the centre-left opposition.

"The major task for us, the Liberal Democratic Party, is to restore people's trust in the party and show firm measures to cope with people's concerns over the future," he told reporters.

Formal announcements of the cabinet changes were expected later Monday.

The key LDP post of policy chief went to Nobuteru Ishihara, 50, a former transport minister and son of Tokyo's popular Governor Shintaro Ishihara and who is regarded as a rising star in the party.

Former trade minister Toshihiro Nikai, a party insider and a noted dove on foreign policy, was given the position of the LDP's General Council chairman, in charge of pushing decisions through.

In the upcoming parliament session, the opposition is likely to fight Abe's plan to renew Japanese logistic support for US-led operations in Afghanistan.

Washington has warned that cutting off that support would damage relations between the Pacific allies. Abe has long advocated a greater military role for Japan, which has been pacifist since defeat in World War II.

Abe, who at 52 is Japan's youngest prime minister in recent times, came to power last September as the chosen successor of Junichiro Koizumi, a reformist who enjoyed intense public support.

His approval ratings have nosedived amid public perceptions that he lacked authority following a raft of scandals, including massive mismanagement of the pension system — a sensitive issue in a rapidly ageing country.

AFP

Last Mod: 27 Ağustos 2007, 12:36
Add Comment