Mr. Fukuda, in advance of his assumption of the premiership, has named Machimura Nobutaka to the post of chief cabinet secretary. Readers will recall that Mr. Mori was insistent during August that Mr. Abe named Mr. Machimura to the post of chief cabinet secretary, unsolicited advice that Mr. Abe chose to ignore.
As expected, Mr. Mori will once again be a force to be reckoned within the party — and that’s probably not a good thing for anyway.
Mr. Machimura’s promotion means that, as Jun Okumura notes, the foreign affairs portfolio is free for Mr. Aso to reclaim it, provided that Mr. Fukuda — and his backers — want to reward Mr. Aso with such a high profile post, especially given the differences in how each man thinks Japan should deal with North Korea. For my part, I’ll be surprised if Mr. Aso returns to the Foreign Ministry, not least because he has adamantly rejected the idea of taking a major cabinet portfolio.