TOKYO — Japan's new leader Naoto Kan will likely take over the cabinet lineup of his predecessor with only minor changes but make sure to curtail the influence of "Shadow Shogun" Ichiro Ozawa, media reports said Sunday.
Kan told reporters late Saturday that he will appoint Yukio Edano, 46, known for being critical of Ozawa, to secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the top post after the party leader.
Yoshito Sengoku, 64, who also keeps his distance from Ozawa, will take the post of chief cabinet secretary, the prime minister's right-hand man and top government spokesman.
The lineup is seen as Kan's effort to limit the influence of Ozawa, a veteran backroom fixer dubbed the "Shadow Shogun", newspapers said.
Ozawa was long seen as the real power behind outgoing prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, who tearfully announced last week that he was stepping down after less than nine months in office.
Ozawa, 68, was the architect of the August electoral earthquake that swept out the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, to which he once belonged, after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule.
But pressure piled on the DPJ government as Ozawa was accused of taking bribes from a construction company while Hatoyama also faced criticism over a political donation scandal. Both men escaped indictment.
When Hatoyama resigned he took Ozawa down with him, saying they both had to go as they had become mired in funding scandals that had resulted in the arrests of close aides.
Kan last week publicly criticised Ozawa, urging him to "stay quiet".
Newspaper polls, the first since Kan replaced Hatoyama, showed that around 60 percent of the Japanese public have high expectations for the new national leader.
The Asahi daily said 82 percent of respondents to its poll approve of Kan's critical approach to Ozawa.
In another poll by the Mainichi daily, 81 percent of nearly 1,000 voters welcomed the resignation of Ozawa from the post of secretary general.
Kan plans to retain most of the key cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and Transport Minister Seiji Maehara.
Former vice finance minister Yoshihiko Noda, a 52-year-old fiscal hawk, will likely be promoted to finance minister amid growing pressure to revive the world's number two economy and slash mounting public debt, media reported.