Japan's cabinet reshuffle: Abe to retain key ministers, eyes third term in office

The reshuffle comes as Abe tries to boost up economic growth and handle multiple challenges.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is all set to reshuffle his cabinet and top party line-up on Wednesday and this time he is to put priority on stability by retaining key ministers and tapping a veteran lawmaker who favors big spending as ruling party number two.

On Wednesday, Abe will also recast the LDP executive line-up. He will be retaining his right-hand man, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, along with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Fumie Kishida, media reports said.

LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada, a hawkish Abe ally and potential premier, according to the media, will get a portfolio either defense, trade or agriculture.

Economics Minister Nobuteru Ishihara, along with Health, Welfare and Labour Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki may be retained.

He is also expected to appointment of Toshihiro Nikai, 77, a big spending advocate with friendly ties to China, as LDP secretary general.

Analysts argue that by appointing Nikai, Abe is paving his way for his third term in office, since Nikai has already indicated his support for the extension, which would require a change in party rules.

"Abe is seeking to perpetuate his power. He is not grooming any successor other than Inada, and she won't be ready yet," said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano.

The reshuffle comes as Abe tries to boost up economic growth, handle multiple diplomatic challenges and eyes the possibility of staying in office.

However, some experts are sceptical about Abe's move and worry that he will divert too much energy to trying to revise Japan's post-war, pacifist constitution. It is also favourable for Abe as his ruling bloc and allies have the two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament.