Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan plans to reshuffle his Cabinet launched less than four months ago and might sack a close aide who has faced censure from the opposition, reports said yesterday.
Kan will shake up Cabinet and executive posts in his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) after a party convention set for Jan. 13, the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun reported, quoting anonymous DPJ officials.
He might replace his right-hand man, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, against whom a non-binding censure motion was passed in the opposition-controlled upper house of parliament, the daily and Kyodo News agency said.
Opposition parties accused Sengoku of being soft toward China in a territorial dispute and demanded he resign.
They have threatened to boycott parliamentary deliberations on the budget for the next fiscal year starting in April and other issues if he is present.
The possible replacement of Sengoku is aimed at avoiding the deadlock in the divided parliament, Kyodo said.
Sengoku became chief cabinet secretary in June when Kan took power and stayed on when the prime minister reshuffled his Cabinet in September.
Minister of Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism Sumio Mabuchi, who was censured in the upper house along with Sengoku, could also be replaced, the Yomiuri and Kyodo said.
Kan is struggling to boost his Cabinet’s support ratings, which have fallen to around 20 percent in recent polls, especially over foreign policy, including its handling of the row with China over a group of islets in East China Sea.
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