TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is moving toward appointing his foreign affairs chief to a senior position in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in what likely would be one of the most high-profile changes in this week's cabinet and party reshuffle.
Fumio Kishida, minister of foreign affairs, met with Abe at his official residence for about 30 minutes Tuesday. The two men apparently discussed Kishida's possible transfer to the post of chairman at the LDP's Policy Research Council, a top position within the party.
Abe previously leaned toward retaining Kishida as foreign minister, where he has served since Abe's current stint as prime minister started in December 2012. But Kishida expressed a desire to serve in an LDP post, and Abe finally opened up to the idea.
The cabinet reorganization likely will feature experienced policymakers. Toshimitsu Motegi, current Policy Research Council chairman, may be moved to a key cabinet position, along with Itsunori Onodera, acting chairman of the policy council. Wataru Takeshita, chairman of the party's Diet Affairs Committee, could be moved to chairman of the LDP's General Council or Election Strategy Committee.
So far, Abe is set to install Masaji Matsuyama, chairman of the LDP's Diet Affairs Committee for the upper house, into the cabinet for the first time. Hiroshige Seko, who oversees the economic cooperation deals with Russia, is expected to keep his current positions, including minister of economy, trade and industry.
Other holdovers would include Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Keiichi Ishii, the Komeito member who serves as transportation minister.
LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai revealed to reporters Tuesday that Abe approached him about retaining his position. Masahiko Komura, vice president of the party, also will keep his post. Hiroshi Moriyama, a former agriculture minister, could receive a key party post.
Abe apparently has stopped considering Akira Amari for a senior LDP position. Amari resigned as economic minister last year over a political funding scandal. With allegations of political favoritism sending Abe's cabinet approval ratings tumbling, the prime minister wishes to avoid further inflaming public criticism.
Abe formally decides the LDP leadership roster during an extraordinary party meeting early Thursday. He will then call an extraordinary cabinet meeting and accept resignations to pave the way for the launch later that day of the third cabinet of his current administration.