Japan PM Announces New Cabinet

Posted September 2nd, 2011 at 6:50 am (UTC-5)
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Japan's recently-appointed prime minister has announced a new government aimed at guiding the country through a fragile post-earthquake recovery and a shaky economy.

Yoshihiko Noda on Friday named Jun Azumi, a journalist turned parliamentary affairs chief of the country's ruling Democratic party, as his new finance minister. Koichiro Gemba, the outgoing national strategy minister, will become Japan's new foreign minister.

Azumi and Gemba, both under 50 years old, are relatively young compared to the previous cabinet, which was dominated by more experienced statesmen. Both are also closely allied to Mr. Noda.

Other cabinet appointments include Yoshio Hachiro, who was named as Noda's new trade and economy minister, and Yasuo Ichikawa, who will become minister of defense. Goshi Hosono, charged with overseeing the resolution of the nuclear crisis, will retain his position of environment minister.

In a press conference after naming his cabinet on Friday, Prime Minister Noda said he would quickly reform public finances, but promised to do so “in a realistic manner.” He also said a balance between economic growth and fiscal reform was necessary.

Mr. Noda was confirmed Tuesday by parliament as Japan's new prime minister. He succeeds Naoto Kan, who stepped down last week amid deep public disapproval of his administration's handling of the earthquake and the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Prime Minister Noda said Friday that recovering from the disaster will continue to be a top priority for Japan's government.

Mr. Noda also pledged to develop a “mutually beneficial relationship” with China, while promising to build friendly ties with regional neighbors South Korea and Russia.

On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned his congratulations to Mr. Noda, and discussed the importance of the U.S.-Japanese friendship and alliance to peace and stability in the Pacific. They also pledged to work closely to reenergize the global economy.