World News

Japan PM Kan to replace his No.2 minister: report

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan (R) walks in front of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku as he leaves a news conference to mark the end of the parliament session, at his official residence in Tokyo December 6, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is making final arrangements to replace Yoshito Sengoku as his No. 2 minister, the Asahi newspaper said, a move that may clear the way for debate on the next fiscal year’s budget when parliament opens this month.

Katsuya Okada, the ruling Democratic Party’s secretary-general, is among the candidates for the chief cabinet secretary post but a final decision has not been made, the paper said Wednesday without citing sources.

The upper house of parliament passed non-binding but embarrassing censure motions against Sengoku and Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi in November over their handling of a territorial row with China.

The two biggest opposition parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito, have said they will boycott parliamentary business if the two stay on.

Kan has decided that replacing Sengoku is inevitable to set the stage for cross-party debate on tax reforms that he is advocating, the Asahi said.

Other candidates to replace Sengoku include the Democratic Party’s deputy secretary-general, Yukio Edano, and National Strategy Minister Koichiro Gemba, the newspaper said.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Chris Gallagher