Japanese Prime Minister reshuffles cabinet ahead of election


Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda reshuffled his cabinet on Oct. 1, hoping to bring unity within his own party and improve the party’s chances in an election, expected to be held in the next few months. He has appointed a senior party official as finance minister, and a high-profile political figure to another important post.

TOKYO (majiroxnews) — Japanese Prime Minister Noda reshuffled his cabinet in an attempt to heal splits within his own party and bring life into Japan’s sluggish economy. The reorganization of his Cabinet is a move to achieve these ends and bolster his sagging popularity and that of his party. Eight Cabinet members retained their positions, but ten changes were made.

“We will do our best to tackle the issues that are still halfway done, such as the recovery from the 2011 disaster, the battle to control the nuclear crisis and revival of the Japanese economy,” Noda said at a press conference in Tokyo

Kooriki Jojima replaced Jun Azumi as finance minister. He must find ways to put life into Japan’s dormant economy, which has suffered from a global slowdown and a strong yen. The appointment of Jojima and the new ministers is also an effort to mend the split in the party, which has suffered as a result of the future rise in the consumption tax rate, and the defection of former party bigwig Ichiro Ozawa and his faction of supporters.

“There will not be any major changes in Noda’s policies,” Pema Galypo, a professor of politics at Toin University in Yokohama. “”He is rewarding his close allies who have supported him and his policies in the past. However, there may be problems with Makiko Tankaka who could prove somewhat controversial as regards China.”

Makiko Tankaka was appointed Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology. Tanaka, a former Foreign Minister, is the daughter of former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka who normalized ties with China 40 years ago. She has a pro-Chinese stance and is said to have personal ties with members of the Chinese leadership. There are currently heightened tensions between the two countries over ownership of the Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese.

Businessman Konno Yoshimasa said, “She hasn’t been in a position of power for some years and I hope the government will use her, since she is capable and experienced.”

There are those who are cynical and believe that Noda’s party has not delivered on its promises.

Mikiko Miyamoto, a housewife in Tokyo said, “There have been more than two reshuffles and it hasn’t made a bit of difference. ”

Noda has seen his support approval drop to below 30 percent. Although, he recently won a party leadership vote in September.

It is also unclear how the recent election of former Prime Minister Abe as the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, will play out.

However, many predict that it is unlikely that Noda will survive a general election. And it remains to be seen if the Cabinet shuffle will boost his party’s popularity.

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