Abe to effect cabinet reshuffle on Thursday

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Tokyo, Aug 1 (IANS) Aiming to arrest his plunging popularity following a series of scandals, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday announced he will carry out a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.

In a meeting with his party, Abe said he will appoint new officials to his administration and reshuffle key executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), reports Efe news.

“I’d like to implement a sweeping change,” Abe said.

It is expected that the cabinet overhaul will not affect key members of the Executive such as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga.

The Prime Minister’s decision is expected to affect mainly the Defence Ministry following the resignation of Minister Tomomi Inada on July 28, and the Education Ministry, whose leader has faced cronyism allegations.

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Inada, a conservative ally and a possible successor of Abe, decided to step down after being under fire for allegations that the country’s Self Defence Forces covered up military documents linked to a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

The head of the Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology Ministry, Hirokazu Matsuno, is also reportedly involved in a scandal over Japanese authorities’ giving special treatment to two educational institutions as they had links with the government and even with Abe.

These scandals resulted in Abe’s popularity plunging to around 30 per cent, according to several polls published earlier in July, which place the Prime Minister at his worst popularity rating since he came to power in late 2012.

Both Inada and Matsuno were appointed just a year ago in the third cabinet reshuffle by Abe since 2014 when he began his third term as Premier.

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