Abe eyeing Cabinet reshuffle in August or later

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering reshuffling his Cabinet in August or later, rather than in late June shortly after the end of the current parliamentary session, senior ruling lawmakers said Monday.

Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga are likely to survive the envisioned reshuffle, while Shigeru Ishiba, secretary general of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, will also retain his post, according to the lawmakers.

It would be the first Cabinet reshuffle since the current administration was launched in December 2012.

Abe had initially planned to change his Cabinet immediately after the ongoing Diet session closes on June 22.

But the prime minister appears to have abandoned the idea, choosing instead to concentrate on some contentious policy goals such as allowing the country to exercise the right of collective self-defense.

Abe had recently accepted the idea of reshuffling the Cabinet in late August, when ministers will almost have completed the government's initial work for drawing up the fiscal 2015 budget, or later, one of the lawmakers said.

Under that scenario, the new ministers would only have limited time to prepare for Diet deliberations, which will restart possibly in October when an extraordinary session opens.

Abe's Cabinet will continue to handle difficult tasks, including his overhaul of defense policy, improving strained relations with China and South Korea, and keeping the economy on the track for sustainable growth despite the recent and future consumption tax hikes.

Abe has faced growing calls from within the LDP for a Cabinet reshuffle, which normally is linked with a management change in the LDP, to ease frustrations among senior member lawmakers waiting to be picked for ministerial posts.