TOKYO (AP) - Japan's incoming government named its new Cabinet
on Tuesday, keeping key members in place as the ruling party looks
to revive the moribund economy and restore voter confidence ahead
of next month's elections.
Prime Minister-elect Naoto Kan, whose administration will
officially be sworn in Tuesday evening, chose to maintain the bulk
of the existing Cabinet, including the country's powerful foreign
and defense ministers. But he added several new faces as he seeks
to distance his government from the previous one, which was bogged
down by broken campaign promises and financial scandals.
"With freshness and professionalism, we would like to create a
government that is thoroughly clean and accountable," said new
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihito Sengoku.
Among the new picks are Renho, a celebrity and former television
announcer who was featured in the media for her tough stance
against bureaucrats in public budget debates last year. The former
model goes by one name and will be minister of administrative
Kan, who previously served as finance minister, will be replaced
by former subordinate Yoshihiko Noda, who favors financial
discipline and is against heavy public spending.
Japan's sixth prime minister in four years, Kan was to be
officially be sworn in later Tuesday in a ceremony with Emperor
The plain-spoken Kan, known for his sometimes fiery temper and
for exposing a government cover-up of HIV-tainted blood products in
the mid-1990s, was elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote
last week to replace Yukio Hatoyama, who said he would step down
last week amid voter dismay in his broken campaign promises and
perceived weakness as a leader.
The retention of the foreign and defense posts are especially
important given increased tensions in the region after the alleged
sinking of a South Korean patrol ship by a North Korean submarine
two months ago, as well as Tokyo's continuing negotiations over a
controversial U.S. Marine base on the southern island of Okinawa.
Kan's reputation and common roots - in contrast to several of
the previous leaders who all hailed from politically elite families
- could boost the DPJ's fortunes, analysts say.
"What the Japanese public wants is a government that solves
problems for them. They want a government that works for them, not
lofty promises," said Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at Council on
Foreign Affairs in Washington.
Recent polls show that the Democrats have already won back a
measure of voter trust.
A poll published Tuesday in the national Sankei newspaper showed
that 57 percent of recipients have high expectations for the new
government, and support for the party has recovered to 31 percent,
versus 18 percent from before Hatoyama stepped down.
The Sankei survey was conducted through random telephone
interviews of 1,000 eligible voters. It did not give a margin of
error, but that sampling size would normally have a margin of about
5 percentage points.
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