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

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid