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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs