Japanese Prime Minister Reshuffles Cabinet

Posted October 1st, 2012 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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Japan's prime minister has reshuffled his Cabinet for a third time since taking office last year as he tries to boost support for the government ahead of expected elections.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the new lineup Monday, saying it will help the government and the ruling party work together to address domestic and diplomatic issues.

Public support for his government has fallen as the prime minister pushed to double the country's sales tax. Japan is also locked in a diplomatic dispute with China over ownership of islands in the East China Sea.

The Cabinet shakeup includes new ministers of finance, national policy and education. The country's foreign minister and defense minister are keeping their jobs.

Japan must hold a general election within a year, but Prime Minister Noda has said only that it will take place “in the near term.”

Last week, Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party elected former prime minister Shinzo Abe as its president.

He abruptly left office in 2007 citing a stomach illness, following a significant election defeat.

Opinion polls suggest Mr. Abe's party would have the edge in a general election, but would also need a coalition partner.