Japan's Abe to pick LDP veteran Aso as finance minister: media

Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:33pm EST
 

By Stanley White

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's next Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will offer the finance minister's job to Taro Aso, media said, a veteran lawmaker and former prime minister expected to toe the party line calling for aggressive monetary easing and a public works splurge.

Asahi and Mainichi newspapers reported on Tuesday Aso would get the finance post while Yomiuri said Aso, 72, was also being considered as a possible foreign minister.

Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its small ally New Komeito captured a two-thirds majority in Sunday's landslide, will announce his cabinet line-up on December 26.

The choice of Aso suggests that Abe is looking to LDP veterans to fill important positions to avoid criticism that his ministers lack experience, a recurring complaint about cabinets of the Democratic Party of Japan that trounced the LDP in 2009, only to suffer a crushing defeat three years later.

Abe's own first cabinet similarly suffered criticism that he picked lawmakers close to him personally rather than those best qualified for the job.

When Aso was prime minister, he launched massive economic stimulus packages to combat the 2008-2009 financial crisis, but his efforts were overshadowed by gaffes, scandals and policy flip-flops that culminated with the LDP losing power after more than half a century of an almost non-stop rule.

Like Abe, Aso has an elite political lineage and like the next premier is a grandson of a prime minister.

Abe, who quit abruptly in 2007 after just one year in office, says he has learned from past mistakes and has been working hard to project an image of a strong, mature and decisive leader.   Continued...