Abe to reshuffle Cabinet in summer

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a policy speech at the beginning of the ordinary Diet session of this year at National Diet in Tokyo on January 24, 2014.

JAPAN - The Yomiuri Shimbun quotes sources as saying that consumption tax and a new defence pact with the US will be among key issues. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to reshuffle his Cabinet and the lineup of key Liberal Democratic Party officials in summer immediately after the end of the current ordinary Diet session, government sources said Monday.

At the end of this year, the Abe administration will decide whether to raise the consumption tax rate from 8 per cent to 10 per cent and Japan will revise the Guidelines for Japan-US Defence Cooperation. Given that passage of the fiscal 2014 budget during the current Diet session looks certain, Abe decided to deal with those issues under the new Cabinet, according to the sources.

The focus of attention is whether Abe, also LDP president, will retain Shigeru Ishiba as the party's secretary general, who will spearhead the campaign for unified local elections scheduled for spring next year.

The current ordinary Diet session, which ends on June 22, could be extended by around August if discussions drag on over changing the interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. Thus, Abe will likely reshuffle his Cabinet between late June and late August.