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Abe to replace land minister Ishii, may have Mihara in cabinet

September 8, 2019

Tokyo--In a cabinet reshuffle Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to replace land minister Keiichi Ishii and may give House of Councillors lawmaker Junko Mihara a cabinet post, it was learned Friday.

Ishii's replacement would be in line with the wishes of his party, Komeito, expressed by the party's leader Natsuo Yamaguchi at a meeting with Abe on Friday.

Within Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, some members say the cabinet post should go to another party member after Ishii has stayed in the post for nearly four years since October 2015.

"It's too long," a senior member said. "It's desirable to let as many party colleagues as possible experience a cabinet job."

Mihara, director of the LDP's Women's Affairs Division, may join the cabinet for the first time, reflecting the Abe administration's emphasis on women's empowerment.

She is a high-profile female lawmaker, as is Seiko Hashimoto, former LDP leader in the House of Councillors, who is viewed as a candidate for minister for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Speculation is increasing that LDP General Council Chairman Katsunobu Kato, close to Abe, may rejoin the cabinet.

Meanwhile, there are calls for retaining Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko to avoid sending the wrong message to South Korea over Japan's tightening of export controls on the neighboring country. Jiji Press