Abe set to keep Nikai, Kishida at top of LDP

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen keeping Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai in the post when he reshuffles the Cabinet and the LDP leadership team Sept. 11, sources said Wednesday.

Abe, president of the ruling party, also plans to retain former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council.

Prioritizing the stability of his administration, Japan’s longest-serving postwar prime minister is expected to reappoint Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who both have been members of the Cabinet since Abe returned to power in December 2012.

Meeting at the LDP headquarters Tuesday, Abe and Nikai are believed to have exchanged views on the planned reshuffle. After the meeting, Nikai told reporters that he “has no particular interest” in whether he is retained or not.

Since taking the secretary general post in August 2016, Nikai has consistently supported the Abe administration. Nikai led efforts to revise LDP rules to allow Abe to serve a third successive three-year term as party leader from September 2018.

Furthermore, Nikai has expressed a positive view about another revision to the party rules to pave the way for a fourth Abe term.

Abe has praised Nikai for having “the best political skills” of LDP members.

After the LDP and its coalition partner, Komeito, won more than half of the contested seats in the election for the House of Councillors in July, more LDP members started to say there is no reason to replace Nikai.

Some in the party call for his replacement, given his current age of 80 and longest-ever tenure as LDP secretary general.

But Abe apparently believes that the stability of his administration may be hurt if Nikai is replaced, sources familiar with the matter said.

Kishida served as foreign minister for 4½ years from the inauguration of the current Abe administration. He assumed his current party post in August 2017.

Within his party faction, there have been hopes that Abe would “promote” Kishida, viewed as one of his potential successors, to the post of secretary general.

But Nikai’s expected reappointment would dash these hopes.Speech

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