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Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi on Friday won Cabinet endorsement for a team to combat global warming, including a new vice ministerial post to strengthen negotiating power in international climate-change talks.

Hironori Hamanaka, head of the Global Environment Bureau, will become vice minister in charge of the global environment on July 1, ministry officials said. He is expected to assist Kawaguchi at the July 16-27 sixth Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The assignment will bring unusually swift changes in the posts of three other senior ministerial officials.

Shigeru Sumitani, head of the ministerial secretariat, will replace Hamanaka, while Seizo Matsumoto, head of the Environmental Management Bureau, will replace Sumitani. Tetsushige Nishio, head of the Nature Conservation Bureau, will succeed Matsumoto, the ministry said. Hikari Kobayashi, a ministry councilor, will succeed Nishio. All appointments will be effective July 1.

They assumed the current posts Jan. 6. The switches demonstrate the growing importance of policies on global environment at the ministry, ministry officials said.

Germany optimistic

BERLIN (Kyodo) German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said Thursday he expects constructive participation from Japan at upcoming U.N. climate-change talks in Bonn that aim to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

“Germany and the European Union expect to establish an agreement which will be able to be ratified,” Trittin said at a news conference here.

He said that ratifying the agreement will at least require Japan, Russia, Norway, Australia and Canada.

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