TOKYO, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister-to-be Shinzo Abe plans to appoint veteran party lawmaker Fumio Kishida as foreign minister, sources told Kyodo News Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, which had continuously ruled Japan for more than 50 years until its defeat in 2009 by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan, regained its status by winning at least 320 seats in the 480-seat lower house of Parliament. On Wednesday, Abe is set to get back the prime ministerial post he held in 2006-07.
Kishida, 55, former LDP parliamentary affairs head, had served as state minister in charge of issues related to Okinawa and Northern Territories under Abe's previous government and under former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's government.
Sources told Kyodo Abe decided on Kishida because his past experience could help make progress on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa prefecture and the longstanding territorial dispute with Russia.
Former Prime Minister Taro Aso was expected to become finance minister and deputy prime minister in the new Abe Cabinet, while Yoshihide Suga may get the chief Cabinet secretary spot.
Separately, Kyodo reported former Trade Minister Banri Kaieda was elected Tuesday as the new leader of the defeated Democratic Party of Japan, succeeding outgoing Noda.
Kaieda, 63, defeated former Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi in the two-man race for the top party post, and his immediate challenge would be to rebuild the party ahead of next summer's election to the upper house of Parliament, where half of the seats would be up for re-election, the report said. A DPJ-led group currently holds the majority in the house.