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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday tapped Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to take the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's No. 2 post of secretary-general.
Kishida is set to relaunch his Cabinet after the Diet convenes a special session on Nov. 10 and is expected to choose Motegi's replacement as foreign minister by then. One candidate is former education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Akira Amari assumed the role of LDP secretary-general only a month ago but offered to resign following his shock defeat in a single-seat district in Sunday's general election, marking an unprecedented humiliation for a sitting LDP secretary-general.
Motegi, who has been foreign minister since September 2019, said Kishida tasked him with implementing LDP reforms and drawing up a stimulus package to prop up the coronavirus-hit economy.
"I think it's important that I make sure we can honor the trust invested in us by the people," the 66-year-old told reporters after meeting with the prime minister at the LDP's headquarters in Tokyo and accepting the appointment.
The LDP will make the appointment official at a General Council meeting on Thursday, after Kishida returns from the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
Motegi's most senior LDP post to date has been chairman of the Policy Research Council, a role he served in twice. He is the de facto head of one of the seven major intraparty factions and backed Kishida in the LDP leadership race in September.
A graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Motegi worked as a political reporter at the Yomiuri Shimbun daily and as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1993.
He was easily re-elected in his district in Tochigi Prefecture in the election for the 465-member Lower House, in which the LDP retained a majority.
Amari lost his single-member district in Kanagawa Prefecture to Hideshi Futori of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan but managed to secure a seat through proportional representation.
The 72-year-old resigned as economic and fiscal policy minister in January 2016 amid graft allegations, but opposition lawmakers have continued to criticize him for failing to provide a proper explanation.
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