Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe enters his official residence in Tokyo Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. Abe will reshuffle his Cabinet to replace some of his scandal-hit ministers in hopes of regaining public support. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Japan Prime Minister Abe reshuffles Cabinet as support dips

August 03, 2017 - 12:53 am

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet on Thursday, opting for seasoned party veterans to help restore his battered popularity.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who retained his post, announced the new lineup.

Abe's approval ratings have suffered from a spate of scandals over alleged cronyism and other abuses and objections to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's tendency to force unpopular legislation through parliament.

The shakeup Thursday reflects Abe's recognition that despite the Liberal Democrats' overwhelming majority in parliament, his own once seemingly invincible position may be imperiled.

But plans for the reshuffle were disclosed weeks in advance, and it was not expected to have a major impact on the foreign policy or economy of America's biggest ally in Asia.

The newly named ministers included many Cabinet veterans, including Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister who again was named to that post.

Last week, Abe's protege Tomomi Inada stepped down as defense minister after the disclosure that the ministry hid information about risks faced by Japanese peacekeeping troops in South Sudan.

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