News / Asia

    New Japan Cabinet Convenes; Serious Challenges Ahead

    Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, front row center, and some of his Cabinet members stand together during an official photo session following their first Cabinet meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, September 2, 2011.
    Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, front row center, and some of his Cabinet members stand together during an official photo session following their first Cabinet meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, September 2, 2011.

    Japan’s new prime minister and his cabinet were installed Friday at an Imperial Palace ceremony, officially marking the start of the latest government.

    In a wide-ranging news conference, just prior to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda convening his first Cabinet meeting, much of the focus was on the ongoing recovery effort from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

    Noda says it is imperative to speed efforts to rebound from the disaster. He mentions concerns about radiation from the meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant, triggered by the natural disaster. The prime minister says Japan cannot be whole again without revitalizing the Fukushima region where numerous villages and towns were evacuated because of the radiation levels.

    Noda says time is running out to improve the country’s economy if it wants to avoid risk to its debt rating. He has called for “bold economic and fiscal steps” and is on record as favoring tax hikes.

    Noda added that the alliance with the United States will be at the core of his administration’s foreign policy, but he said he also wants to expand relations with Asian countries.

    In response to a reporter’s question, Noda said he would not visit, during his tenure, the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, regarded by Japan’s neighbors as a symbol of the country’s imperialist aggression before and during World War Two.

    It took the new prime minister several days to form his cabinet. Most Japanese prime ministers announce their administration lineup within a day of winning parliamentary approval, which Noda accomplished on Tuesday. The delay is seen as an indication of infighting among influential Democratic Party of Japan politicians.

    Noda chose a close ally, Osamu Fujimura, for the critical post of Chief Cabinet Secretary, who also acts as the top government spokesman.

    Fujimura, a veteran politician is best known for his resemblance to a famous Japanese cartoon cat, named Doraemon.

    Most of the other Cabinet faces are less familiar to the public, but several are notable for their relative youth.

    The new prime minister is Japan’s third youngest ever, at age 54.

    Taking over the finance ministry post from Mr. Noda is 49-year-old Jun Azumi. He worked as a political journalist at public broadcaster NHK before becoming an independent politician. His hometown, Ishinomaki, a small coastal city suffered extensive damage in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

    About 4,000 of its residents perished.

    The new foreign minister is 47-year-old Koichiro Genba, also a DPJ politician, who was in charge of national strategy under the prior administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Genba is known as an advocate of free trade.

    Forty-year-old Goshi Hosono is being retained as the special minister handling the ongoing crisis caused by the Fukushima reactor meltdowns. Hosono will also serve as environment minister.

    A former agriculture ministry bureaucrat turned politician, Yasuo Ichikawa, is Japan’s new defense minister.

    There is little initial enthusiasm among the Japanese public for the new cabinet. Analysts say constituents have grown weary after seeing the previous five administrations end within 15 months.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells California Republican Convention delegates the campaign will be 'a battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of the June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora