Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plans to reshuffle his Cabinet lineup next Wednesday ahead of the extraordinary parliamentary session slated for the fall, senior government officials said.
Kishida intends to use the envisioned personnel change to bolster his administration as support for his Cabinet has declined amid dissatisfaction over surging COVID-19 cases and controversy surrounding holding a state funeral for former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot last month, the officials said Friday.
Taro Aso, vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno are expected to retain their posts, they said.
But Genjiro Kaneko, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and National Public Safety Commission Chairman Satoshi Ninoyu, both whom did not run in the July 10 House of Councillors election, are expected to be replaced because their terms as lawmakers expired last month.
Kishida, president of the LDP, was originally planning to make the changes in the first half of September but has since leaned toward bringing the timing forward as he seeks to establish a long-term administration.
The LDP had a strong showing in the upper house election, putting Kishida in a position to oversee a three-year period of stability in which no national elections will be held unless he dissolves the House of Representatives, the more powerful lower chamber of parliament.
During the period, the prime minister plans to promote urgent issues, like the fight against inflation, while seeking to push forward efforts toward amending the Constitution.
Kishida plans to convene an LDP executive board meeting Monday and seek the party's approval for his appointment of the party leadership.
He is likely to reshuffle the Cabinet and the LDP leadership a day after attending a ceremony marking the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
With the approach of key events such as the state funeral of Abe scheduled on Sept. 27 and the parliamentary session eyed for October, Kishida likely thought new Cabinet members need time to prepare for deliberations at the Diet.
LDP lawmakers have also faced scrutiny for their connections to the Unification Church after it emerged the gunman targeted Abe over his alleged links to the religious group.
A recent Kyodo News survey showed that the approval rating for Kishida's Cabinet had dropped to 51.0 percent, its lowest level since its October 2021 launch.
Kishida had initially pushed back the reshuffling of his Cabinet and the LDP executives to early September due to his tight schedule in late August.
A memorial service on the 49th day after Abe's murder, a custom for the dead in Japan, is scheduled on Aug. 25 and Kishida is slated to attend an international conference on African development known as TICAD, to be held in Tunisia on Aug. 27 and 28.