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The government on Friday appointed Yukio Sato as ambassador to the United Nations, Foreign Ministry officials said. He replaces Hisashi Owada, who has held the post for more than four years.

Sato, 58, has served as ambassador to the Netherlands and Australia, they said. He has also served as director general of the ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau.

Owada, who became ambassador to the U.N. in April 1994 and will be 66 later this month, is expected to retire from the Foreign Ministry and become head of the Japan Institute of International Affairs, a ministry-affiliated think tank.

Owada plans to stay in New York until early next month to coordinate Japan’s appeal to the U.N. over North Korea’s firing Monday of a ballistic missile over northern Japan and into the Pacific Ocean, government sources said.

Owada is the father of the Crown Princess.

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