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Yoshinobu Shimamura, 63, parliamentary vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, became the farm minister Sept. 26.

He succeeded Ihei Ochi, 76, who resigned Sept. 25 because of illness. Shimamura is a Liberal Democratic Party member in the Lower House who belongs to the same LDP faction as Ochi. He is considered a leading advocate of an LDP tieup with Shinshinto, the main opposition party.

The outspoken Shimamura stirred controversy when, as education minister under the administration of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, he suggested that Japan should not always apologize for its wartime actions.

Ochi was the eldest member of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s new Cabinet, which was reshuffled Sept. 11. He was the second minister member to step down from the fledgling Cabinet.

The first was Koko Sato, who resigned as Management and Coordination Agency chief amid mounting criticism over his past bribery conviction in connection with the Lockheed scandal.

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