Lower House member Hosei Norota, 69, was appointed as the Defense Agency’s new director general by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on Friday as a mass personnel reshuffle continued in the wake of scandals involving procurement overcharging and subsequent coverups.

Norota, a former minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, is to fill the shoes of former Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga, who tendered his resignation to the prime minister earlier in the day to take responsibility for the scandal.

Accompanied by Obuchi, Norota visited the Emperor at the Imperial Palace at 7 p.m. to take part in formalities during which the appointment was approved by the nation’s symbolic leader.

The new defense chief belongs to a Liberal Democratic Party faction led by Obuchi, as does Nukaga. Norota is a veteran lawmaker from Akita Prefecture with a 21-year career in Nagata-cho.

“It has been my responsibility to clarify the facts, punish the agency staffers involved (in the scandals) and lay out preventive measures,” Nukaga told reporters in the morning. “Now I would bring up the rear over these scandals,” Nukaga said, adding that he hopes the agency, under Norota’s direction, will carry out the reform plans he mapped out Thursday.

The resignation of Nukaga, 54, came on his 114th day at the post. He was only one month into the job when the bill-padding involving senior agency officials and NEC group firms was revealed.

Nukaga’s resignation came one day after the agency’s release of its final report on an in-house probe indicating some actions taken by its officials before the September raid by investigators could constitute a “systematic coverup.”

On Friday, Obuchi’s Cabinet also endorsed Nukaga’s plan for a reshuffling of agency personnel, including the appointment of Seiji Ema, 55, national security and crisis management chief at the Cabinet Office, to replace the agency’s administrative vice minister, Masahiro Akiyama.

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