(Corrects Taro Aso's title to vice president of ruling LDP)
TOKYO, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is likely to appoint Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda to a position outside the cabinet, while retaining his current finance and foreign ministers in a reshuffle expected this week, media said.
Koichi Hagiuda, the minister of economy, trade and industry, is likely to be appointed chairman of the ruling party's policy research committee, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Tuesday, without saying where it got the information.
Hagiuda is a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's largest faction, which was previously led by former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot and killed last month. Hagiuda's appointment is intended to show the importance of that faction and help strengthen defence policy, the Yomiuri said.
The reshuffle, earlier than previously expected, comes as Kishida's administration faces increasing public scrutiny on the relationship between the Unification Church religious group and ruling party lawmakers, including Abe.
One of Kishida's advisers, Minoru Terada, and upper house lawmaker Naoki Okada are expected to be appointed to the cabinet for the first time, the Yomiuri said.
Kishida, who is facing his lowest support levels since taking office in October, is also expected to keep Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Nikkei newspaper said late on Monday. It also did not say where it got the information.
Kishida also intends to keep Taro Aso, the vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Hirokazu Matsuno, the chief cabinet secretary, it said, other media have previously said those two would likely be retained.
Kishida said over the weekend he would reshuffle his cabinet to address issues including rising COVID-19 infections.
Jiji news agency reported on Friday that Suzuki, the finance minister, would be retained. The Yomiuri newspaper had previously reported that Kishida was likely to replace Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, due to his health issues. (Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Sam Holmes and Stephen Coates)