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Kan forms coalition Cabinet; keeps 11 Ministers

Date Posted: 2010-06-09

Japan’s new Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, forged a new Cabinet Tuesday, keeping 11 Ministers who served in Yukio Hatoyama’s Cabinet while adding new faces while keeping the Democratic Party of Japan ~ People’s New Party coalition intact.

Kan and Shizuka Kamei, head of the People’s New Party, confirmed they will keep the coalition relationship in the new administration.

His appointment of Yoshito Sengoku as his Chief Cabinet Secretary set the pace for his Tuesday unveiling of a new Cabinet. Sengoku had formerly served as State Minister for National Policy in Hatoyama’s Cabinet. It was he, not Kan, who formally announced the slate of Ministers who will serve the Prime Minister.

Eleven Ministers were carried over from the previous administration; Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma, Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Tatsuo Kawabata, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara, Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima, Minister for Postal and Financial Affairs Shizuka Kamei, and National Public Safety Commission Chairman and Minister in Charge of Abduction Issues Hiroshi Nakai, all remain in the Kan Cabinet.

Newly appointed are 53-year-old Yoshihiko Noda as Finance Minister, Minister for National Strategy, Economic and Fiscal Policy and Consumer Affairs 64-year-old Satoshi Arai, 42-year-old Renho as Minister for Government Revitalization, 68-year-old Masahiko Yamada as Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries Minister, and 46-year-old Koichiro Genba as Minister for Civil Servant Reform and Birthrate Improvement.

Noda had served previously as the senior vice finance minister. Renho, a former television news anchorwoman, took Yoshito Sengoku’s place after he was promoted to Chief Cabinet Secretary. Koichi Genba will also handle the job as policy chief for the Democratic Party of Japan in addition to his ministerial portfolio. Arai was formerly an adviser to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Speaking at a Tuesday evening news conference, Kan promised to overcome the seemingly lethargic state of Japan’s government. “I believe that the role of politics is to eliminate as much as possible the many factors that make Japanese people and people in the world unhappy,” he said. Kan reflected that “over the past 20 years following the bursting of the ‘bubble economy,’ Japan’s economy has been sluggish and over 30,000 people a year committed suicide a year. A sense of stagnation has been growing,” he noted, adding “I’d like to fundamentally rebuild Japan and make it a more lively country. I want to make Japan a country where young people can spread their wings around the world.”

The new Prime Minister was adamant about maintaining the U.S. ~ Japan alliance, while at the same time deepening ties with Asian, European, African and South American countries. “Japan has promoted its diplomacy over the past 60 years in the post-war period with the Japan ~ U.S. alliance as it’s core. We need to continue that stance,” he reiterated, “while at the same time, as an Asian country Japan needs to deepen relations with Asian countries.”

Kan was clear on handling the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station relocation issue, saying he understands the need to reduce Okinawa’s burden of hosting U.S. bases while honoring the U.S. ~ Japan agreement on Futenma. “Japan and the United States have agreed on the issue,” he said, and we must carry out the plan in accordance with the accord. At the same time, we must try our utmost to reduce the burden on Okinawa as called for in a Cabinet decision on the plan. Kan called it “an extremely difficult task, but I’m determined to work on the issue with a clear goal.”

The new Prime Minister personally involved himself in the ministerial selection process, unlike Yukio Hatoyama, who left party management in the hands of then-Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa.

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