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Abe's top cabinet posts filled by old allies
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 26, 2012

Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front, C), accompanied by Finance Minister Taro Aso (front, 2nd R) and Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki (front, 2nd L), poses with his cabinet members for photo session after their first cabinet meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on December 26, 2012. Abe was elected Japan's prime minister by the lower house of parliament after he swept to power on a hawkish platform of getting tough on diplomatic issues while fixing the economy. Photo courtesy AFP.

Japan's new government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a new cabinet on Wednesday. Here are profiles of some top members in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government:

Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister: Taro Aso

Aso, 72, is a fourth-generation politician from a wealthy family who served a one-year stint as prime minister until an election loss in 2009.

He was branded "Japan's offensive minister" in a 2006 New York Times editorial after he praised aspects of Japan's colonial past, a sore point in China and on the Korean peninsula.

As premier, Aso launched a series of economic stimulus packages worth hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the long-struggling economy.

During Abe's 2006-2007 tenure in Japan's top political job, Aso served as foreign minister.

Foreign Minister: Fumio Kishida

Kishida, 55, was state minister in charge of Okinawan affairs and issues linked to territorial disputes with Russia during Abe's previous tenure as prime minister.

His appointment was seen as a reflection of Abe's desire for progress on the relocation of US military bases in the southern island chain, and on longstanding territorial disputes with Moscow.

Kishida is a third-generation politician who succeeded to his father's constituency in Hiroshima after working for several years as a banker.

Defence Minister: Itsunori Onodera

Onodera, 52, was deputy foreign minister for a year during Abe's 2006-2007 stint as premier and during that of his successor Yasuo Fukuda. Onodera also served as the Liberal Democratic Party's foreign policy chief in opposition.

He has said he wants "stronger security ties with the United States and diplomacy that states Japan's position clearly", when asked about Tokyo's bitter territorial row with Beijing over an East China Sea island chain.

Born in a northern fishing town devastated in last year's tsunami disaster, Onodera was groomed at a political training school established by the founder of electronics giant Panasonic.

Justice Minister: Sadakazu Tanigaki

Tanigaki, 67, is a seasoned LDP heavyweight who headed the party when it was in opposition between 2009 and 2012.

The lawyer-turned politician served as finance minister for three years under former premier Junichiro Koizumi.

He was later criticised as being sometimes too gentle in opposition, while his faction of the LDP focused on economic growth, keeping a lid on military spending and boosting ties with the US.

Chief Cabinet Secretary: Yoshihide Suga

Suga, 64, was acting LDP secretary general when the party was in opposition and is one of Abe's closest aides. As Chief Cabinet Secretary, he will be a key political player and the government's top spokesman.

Born to a farm family in northern Japan, Suga worked his way through top-rated Tokyo university before joining politics as a city council member in the port city of Yokohama south of Tokyo.

He is a strong advocate of banning hereditary parliamentary posts, a common practice which sees lawmakers' children take over their parents' seats.


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New Japan PM faces tests on diplomacy, economy
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 26, 2012
Japan's new premier faces a long to-do list as he takes office Wednesday, including mending ties with Asian neighbours and reviving a limp economy that bedevilled previous governments, analysts say. High on the agenda for Shinzo Abe will be addressing prickly relations with China and South Korea, which greeted his rise to power with alarm after a series of hardline comments on territorial di ... read more

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