Hirano gets nod to lead agency for rebuilding

Kyodo, Staff Report

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Thursday appointed Tatsuo Hirano, minister in charge of quake and tsunami reconstruction in the Tohoku region, as head of the agency that will be launched Friday to oversee the rebuilding, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.

Noda also tapped former education minister Masaharu Nakagawa to take over another of Hirano’s responsibilities, disaster prevention, and oversee issues relating to the falling birthrate and gender equality, Fujimura said. The latter two positions have been handled by Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada.

Hirano and Nakagawa will be formally inaugurated at an attestation ceremony Friday at the Imperial Palace.

“As vice minister, and later as minister, Hirano has been in charge of reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake all this time. He has thorough knowledge on the issue and is irreplaceable,” Fujimura said.

Meanwhile, Fujimura insisted that the appointment of Nakagawa, who was replaced last month as education minister, was “the right person for the job.”

While the reconstruction agency is in operation through March 2021, the maximum number of Cabinet members will increase from 17 to 18. There are currently 17 ministers, excluding Noda.

The personnel change is also aimed at letting Okada concentrate on tax, social security and administrative reforms to step up efforts to achieve Noda’s key policy goal of raising the consumption tax, political sources said.