TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s new head of state will appoint the little-known but well-connected lawmaker Shunichi Suzuki as finance minister, daily Yomiuri reported.
The alleged new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will appoint 68-year-old Suzuki, son of former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki and brother-in-law of current Finance Minister Taro Aso, to the post on Monday, the report said.
Former Foreign Minister Kishida won the LDP leadership election on Wednesday and will almost certainly replace Yoshihide Suga as Prime Minister due to the LDP majority in the powerful lower house.
Suzuki, a former Olympics minister, is little known even in Japan and may lack the power and flair of his predecessor Aso, making it likely that he is sticking to government policies of curbing growth spending through tax reforms, analysts said .
“He will be a minister who comes with that sense of moderation,” said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities.
Iwashita noted that Suzuki has long been viewed as a senior leader in Aso’s political faction and was expected to follow in his footsteps and stick to the Treasury Department’s goals.
According to media reports, Aso is to be appointed Vice President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Friday.
While Aso made little headway in improving Japanese finances, despite raising national sales tax twice, he was considered a dominant presence on the international scene.
Some government sources saw Aso’s departure as a blow after advocating Japan for nearly nine years on issues such as global tax reforms in the Group of Seven (G7) and G20 debates.
“His departure would have a major impact on the Japanese presence. He was the face of Japan at G7 / G20 meetings. His words carried weight, ”said a source.
Kishida is expected to be officially elected Prime Minister at the parliamentary session on Monday and to announce a cabinet reshuffle on the same day.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will keep his post in the new cabinet, while Hirokazu Matsuno, who served as Minister of Education under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is expected to become chief cabinet secretary, media reported. Matsuno is a member of an LDP parliamentary group closely linked to Abe.
Veterinarian politician Daishiro Yamagiwa, who wrote a book with Abe’s ally Akira Amari, will be appointed Minister of Commerce, Kyodo News Agency said.
The LDP’s senior appointments announced on Friday also included names closely linked to Abe, underscoring the influence of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister over Kishida’s government. Abe’s support for Kishida in the final vote on the leadership was instrumental in his victory.
Amari was named the party’s new general secretary, and Sanae Takaichi, who ran against Kishida in the party’s presidency with Abe’s initial support, was elected its new political leader.
Taro Kono, Kishida’s greatest rival for the top position, was named the party’s PR chief after being passed over to higher positions.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Ritsuko Ando, Chang-Ran Kim, Lincoln Feast and Michael Perry