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Abe eyes minor Cabinet reshuffle in Sept.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to conduct a minor reshuffle of his Cabinet in September as he hopes to move forward with his policy agenda with a new lineup, senior lawmakers of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Tuesday.

The envisioned reshuffle will come as terms for some executives of the LDP will expire at the end of September.

After seeing the outcome of the crucial upper house election next month, Abe aims to strengthen policy coordination in the LDP and handling of Diet affairs with personnel changes of LDP executives to better deal with an extraordinary Diet session likely to be convened in the fall, the lawmakers said.

The Diet session is expected to deliberate on issues such as increases in the consumption tax rate and Japan's participation in negotiations for the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

Also at issue will be a bill to encourage corporate realignment and boost capital spending -- a key part of Abe's growth strategy.

Although details still need to be worked out, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba are likely to stay on, according to the lawmakers.

Ishiba, who lost to Abe in an election to choose the LDP's president last September, said in an interview Monday that decisions should be left to the prime minister but added he would do his part to maintain the party's strength if asked to stay on.

LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi, however, will likely leave the post as she has come under fire for saying that "no one died" in the nuclear crisis following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami -- comments taken as making light of those affected in Fukushima Prefecture, the lawmakers said.

Abe will also replace Diet affairs chief Ichiro Kamoshita because he is perceived as having catered too much to opposition parties during the current regular Diet session set to end Wednesday, they said.

After six months in office, Abe continues to enjoy relatively high public support, benefiting from the popularity of a set of economic policies called "Abenomics" aimed at pulling the Japanese economy out of nearly two decades of deflation.

Following a landslide victory in Sunday's Tokyo metropolitan assembly election, the LDP is aiming to gather further momentum to win the House of Councillors election on July 21, and secure a majority with its coalition partner the New Komeito party so they can pass legislation without opposition support.