TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will reshuffle his Cabinet next week to address mounting issues, including the coronavirus, inflation, Taiwan and the economy, he said Saturday (Aug 6).

“We need to set off a new formation as soon as possible, considering the various issues,” he told a news conference in Hiroshima after attending a commemoration for the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing in the city.

Mr Kishida did not give any details of his Cabinet changes, but the Yomiuri daily reported earlier that he would likely replace Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, given his health issues, in the reshuffle scheduled for Wednesday (Aug 10).

Defence is in the spotlight, with tensions surging between self-ruled Taiwan and mainland China in recent days.

A recent surge in Covid-19 cases to record highs poses another problem for the government.

A reorganisation of the Cabinet and ruling party officials was slated for early September, after a memorial service for former premier Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead last month.

But Mr Kishida brought it forward to address falling approval for the Cabinet in polls, the Yomiuri said.

The reshuffle comes after Mr Kishida’s conservative coalition government increased its majority in the Upper House of Parliament in a July election held two days after Mr Abe’s death.

Mr Kishi, 63, the younger brother of the late Mr Abe, has been defence minister since September 2020.

Jiji news agency reported Friday (Aug 5) that Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki would be retained, and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda would either be kept or moved to another important post.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, as well as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Vice-President Taro Aso and Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi would also likely retain their positions, the Yomiuri also reported.