Foreign Ministry shake-up in works

Kyodo

The government plans to appoint Shinsuke Sugiyama, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, as deputy foreign minister and to promote the current incumbent, Akitaka Saiki, to vice foreign minister, sources said Saturday.

Since assuming his post in January 2011, Sugiyama, 60, has dealt with Tokyo’s territorial rows with China and South Korea, while addressing North Korea’s past abductions of Japanese nationals.

When Saiki, 60, vacates the deputy foreign minister post, Sugiyama’s position will be filled by Junichi Ihara, 57, director general of the ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau.

The ministry’s top bureaucrat, Chikao Kawai, 60, was expected to be appointed Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations, but he may instead assume the post of grand chamberlain of the Imperial Household Agency, according to the sources.