Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's new Cabinet met for the first
time Saturday, after being sworn in at a ceremony in front of Emperor
Akihito at the imperial palace.
At the meeting, Mr. Fukuda pledged to fight rising prices and go ahead with his reform policies.
Fukuda replaced 13 of his 17 government ministers Friday, including his
economic team, in an effort to revive the country's stagnant economy.
He named Kaoru Yosana as his new economics minister, while tapping
Bunmei Ibuki as finance minister.
The Japanese prime minister
said the new Cabinet is charged with implementing reforms to improve
people's lives, including dealing with issues such as rising fuel costs
and a declining domestic birth rate.
Mr. Fukuda also said he
would not dissolve parliament and call elections. His agenda has been
stalled by the main opposition Democratic Party, which controls the
upper house of parliament and has called for snap elections. The
political stalemate has sunk Mr. Fukuda's approval ratings to around 20
The economic and finance ministers are long-serving
members of the prime minister's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Yosana is a strong advocate for raising the national sales tax to
combat Japan's growing national debt. Ibuki is secretary-general of
the ruling party, second only behind Mr. Fukuda.
Mr. Fukuda has
also named two women to the Cabinet. Seiko Noda, a former postal
minister who was once ousted from the LDP, receives the consumer
affairs portfolio. Kyoko Nakayama, a leading advocate on the issue of
Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s, is in charge
of the ministry that handles the abduction issue.
ministers held over from the previous Cabinet include Foreign Minister
Masahiko Komura and Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.