TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to reshuffle his cabinet on Wednesday in a bid to re-energise his economic and security agenda after once stellar approval ratings began to wane.
The staunch conservative had enjoyed sky-high public support when he came to power in December 2012 promising to kick-start Japan’s sputtering economy.
But a series of bruising battles over a consumption tax hike and an unpopular move to water-down the pacifist constitution have taken some of the wind out of his sails.
A little less than two years into his tenure as prime minister, weeds of discontent in his often-fractious party are also beginning to emerge, as the restless ranks of politicians brought up on a system of age-based seniority agitate for a crack at a cabinet job.
Reports say Abe will retain the key figures of his administration Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Finance Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and State Minister in charge of economic revitalisation and trade talks Akira Amari.
But lesser roles could be vacated to make room for key Liberal Democratic Party figures who might otherwise cause trouble for the prime minister if left to languish on the back benches.