Minister close to Abe says Cabinet reshuffle likely this autumn

A minister close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed the view Wednesday that the premier will reshuffle his Cabinet after the House of Councillors election in July, aiming to strengthen its function to promote economic reforms.

As Abe plans to select the new lineup of his Liberal Democratic Party executives this autumn, "I think he'll also conduct a personnel change in the government," economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari said at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.

Amari's remarks came with expectations growing among some ruling lawmakers that Abe will carry out a Cabinet reshuffle with an eye on Japan's entry into Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks and the planned sales tax hikes in two stages to 10 percent from the current 5 percent by 2015.

After the upper house election, Abe's administration, formed on Dec. 26, can accelerate efforts to achieve its policy goal of ending nearly two decades of deflation as no national election will be held for the next three years following the upcoming one, Amari said.

A key to attaining it is to allow the sixth prime minister in five years to stay in power for an extended period, said Amari, who served as economy, trade and industry minister under Abe's previous government that lasted for a year from September 2006.

"The biggest reason previous governments were not able to (beat deflation) is because they changed every year," Amari said, adding the most important thing to implement Abe's economic policies dubbed "Abenomics" is "to make Abe's government stable."

The ruling bloc led by the LDP lacks a majority in the upper house at present.