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Cabinet shuffle gives Japan new foreign minister

 Prime Minister Naoto Kan is all smiles after he was re-elected as president of the ruing Democratic Party of Japan during the party convention in Tok...
 Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, right, looks on as senior lawmaker Ichiro Ozawa bows before ruling Democratic Party of Japan members Tuesday, Sept...
 Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaks at a press conference after he was re-elected as president of the Democratic Party of Japan during the party...
 Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan bows to party members after he was re-elected president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan  Tuesday, Sept. 14,...
 Seiji Maehara, former transport minister, walks in the prime minister's official residence to be appointed as new Foreign Minister in Tokyo Friday, S...
 Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku gestures during a press conference to announce new Cabinet members as Prime Minister Naoto Kan reshuf...

Japan Politics

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is all smiles after he was re-elected as president of the ruing Democratic Party of Japan during the party convention in Tok...

Japan Politics

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, right, looks on as senior lawmaker Ichiro Ozawa bows before ruling Democratic Party of Japan members Tuesday, Sept...

Japan Politics

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaks at a press conference after he was re-elected as president of the Democratic Party of Japan during the party...

APTOPIX Japan Politics

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan bows to party members after he was re-elected president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan Tuesday, Sept. 14,...

Japan Politics

Seiji Maehara, former transport minister, walks in the prime minister's official residence to be appointed as new Foreign Minister in Tokyo Friday, S...

Japan Politics

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku gestures during a press conference to announce new Cabinet members as Prime Minister Naoto Kan reshuf...

Prime Minister Naoto Kan named a new foreign minister as part of his Cabinet reshuffle Friday, putting a new stamp on the administration after surviving a party leadership challenge earlier in the week.
Seiji Maehara, a security expert who was previously transport minister, will quickly be put to the test with an escalating diplomatic spat with China over a boat collision near disputed islands. He will also become the point man for the nettlesome issue of relocating of a controversial U.S. Marine base on Okinawa.
The reshuffle comes after Kan, a fiscal disciplinarian who took office just three months ago, won a divisive Democrat party leadership election Tuesday and promised to use his victory to push ahead with efforts to cap spending, create jobs and build party unity.
"Now that the election is over, we will band together to work so that we can break the sense of stagnation that has affected Japan in the past 20 years," Kan said.
Kan retained the ministers for the key Cabinet posts of finance and defense, but changed 10 of the 17 positions, including appointing a new trade minister.
The new lineup marks "a fresh start" for the prime minister as he deals with a range of issues from a sluggish economy and strong yen to a bulging national debt, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said as he announced the lineup. The Cabinet picks reflect the prime minister's "commitment to push for reforms that would make a breakthrough amid Japan's difficult situation."
An expert in defense and diplomatic issues, Maehara has served on parliamentary and party panels on the U.S-Japan security alliance and other military strategic issues.
Maehara, 48, made a splash soon after becoming transport minister last fall by suspending a massive dam project that the Democrats considered a prime example of wasteful public works spending under the long-ruling conservatives whom they overthrew last year.
Sengoku praised Maehara as a "man of realism," with "outstanding analytical skills and principles."
"As Japan must find the right direction in multilateral and bilateral diplomatic relations as we face globalization, including security environment and economy, I'm sure Mr. Maehara will develop a pragmatic diplomacy," he said.
His first test will be dealing with an increasingly assertive China, which has been harshly critical of Japan's arrest of a Chinese captain whose boat rammed two Japanese patrol vessels last week near disputed islands in the East China Sea. Beijing has said the incident could hurt bilateral ties.
On Thursday, Maehara flew to the area and inspected patrol boats and visited coast guard personnel to praise their efforts to seize the captain.
As for the U.S. base dispute on Okinawa, Kan has said he will honor an agreement with Washington to keep the base on Okinawa, though the plan faces vehement opposition from local residents that will make it difficult to execute.
At home, Kan faces a divided parliament that will make it difficult to pass legislation. In July, the Democrats lost control of the less powerful upper house. To pass bills, Kan's administration will have to seek support on a case-by-case basis with opposition parties.
Japan surprised markets Wednesday by intervening in the currency market to weaken the yen, whose spike to 15-year highs has squeezed foreign income at the nation's key exporters like Nissan Motor Co. and Toshiba Corp. The dollar has since risen, although some analysts say the move's impact will be short-lived.
The dollar, which had fallen as low as 82.87 yen Tuesday was trading at 85.72 yen Friday afternoon in Tokyo.


Updated : 2021-10-26 00:34 GMT+08:00