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The Ministry of International Trade and Industry will announce Friday a reshuffle of its staff, with fewer major personnel changes than a year ago in view of pending trade issues and the regrouping of government offices scheduled in January, ministry officials said Monday.

Katsusada Hirose will remain administrative vice minister to steer the restructuring of MITI.

Also, Hisamitsu Arai, vice minister for international affairs, will retain his post in preparation for negotiations with Singapore on a bilateral free trade pact, the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa in July, and the much-delayed launch of a new round of trade liberalization negotiations under the World Trade Organization.

MITI will also assign Norihiro Kono, 56, head of the Information Systems Administration Division of the Minister’s Secretariat, as new director general of the Shikoku Bureau of International Trade and Industry.

Kono’s promotion to a post equivalent to a MITI bureau chief is unprecedented, and officials said it was an effort to put the right people in the right places.

Meanwhile, Kozo Oikawa, director general of the Defense Agency’s Bureau of Equipment, will take over as Patent Office Commissioner from Takahiko Kondo, who is retiring, and Toshio Nakamura, director general of the International Trade Administration Bureau, will succeed retiring Mitsuyasu Iwata as director general of the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency.