Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is likely to retain his Liberal Democratic Party's two heavyweights, Toshimitsu Motegi and Taro Aso, at their current posts in a leadership reshuffle expected next week, party sources said Thursday. 

Motegi is likely to remain secretary general and Aso vice president of the ruling party as both are leaders of major intraparty groups, and Kishida is aiming to win re-election in the LDP's presidential election next year with their support, the sources said.

Kishida, who also plans to reshuffle the Cabinet as early as Wednesday, will decide after returning from a trip to India, where he is set to attend a Group of 20 summit this weekend, according to the sources.

Kishida may also give LDP policy chief Koichi Hagiuda and industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura key positions within the Cabinet or the party, the sources said.

Liberal Democratic Party secretary general Toshimitsu Motegi (L), Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (C) and LDP vice president Taro Aso are pictured at the party's executive meeting in Tokyo on Sept. 5, 2023. (Kyodo) 

The reshuffles come as Kishida's administration grapples with waning popularity, and it appears they aim to refresh its image.

Motegi, who heads the third-largest group within the LDP, is widely seen as one of the potential challengers to Kishida in the upcoming party presidential race. However, just this week, at a press conference, he stated that his current role as the party's secretary general requires him to support the administration.

Since assuming his post in 2021, Kishida, who himself leads the LDP's fourth-largest faction, has managed the power balance within the party.

Nishimura and Hagiuda belong to the largest intraparty group once led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot in 2022. Meanwhile, Aso, another former prime minister, heads the second-biggest group.

Kishida may postpone the reshuffles to late September, the sources also said, in light of his tight schedule. He is scheduled to visit New York later this month to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

Related coverage:

Japan lawmaker arrested in suspected clean energy bribery

Japan ruling parties end spat over election cooperation in Tokyo

Japan's opposition party incumbent head Tamaki re-elected