Japan’s foreign minister Motegi to take key post in ruling party

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tapped Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi for the No. 2 post in the ruling party, while domestic media flagged a former defence minister as a candidate for foreign minister.

The move comes after a defeat in Sunday’s lower house election led Akira Amari, the secretary-general of Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), to give up the post.

Motegi said he had accepted the offer to take up the powerful role.

“Next year, soon after the ordinary session of parliament comes an upper house election,” he told reporters on Monday. “I was asked to do the job, including that.”

While not a government post, the job offers huge sway over lawmakers because the holder is in charge of financing campaigns, helping to shape policy and pull fractious members into line.

Amari’s appointment to the job had signalled that Kishida’s government was looking to restart nuclear power plants and pay close attention to economic national security in supply chains, key issues for Amari.

Kishida led the LDP to far better-than-expected election results on Sunday, as the party kept its strong majority in the powerful lower house.

Amari’s loss was among some notable hits it suffered, however, although he retains a parliament seat thanks to Japan’s system of proportional representation.

Kyodo news agency and other media said Yoshimasa Hayashi, 60, had emerged as a candidate for foreign minister, without citing sources.

Besides having served as defence minister, the Harvard-educated Hayashi has also held the economy, education and agriculture portfolios.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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