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Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Friday she will name Tadashi Imai, head of the ministry’s Intelligence and Analysis Bureau, as the next ambassador to Israel.

Imai, 57, will fill a post that has been vacant since his predecessor, Hiroshi Shigeta, returned home in March. Shigeta was sent to the Middle East earlier this month as Kawaguchi’s special envoy in an effort to persuade Israeli and Palestinian leaders to end the ongoing violence.

Imai’s appointment will be formally approved at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday. He served as head of the ministry’s Consular and Migration Affairs Department before being named to his current post in January 2001.

He has also served as deputy director general of the Foreign Policy Bureau, held posts at Japanese embassies in the United States and Thailand, and worked in the Asian Affairs Bureau.

Kawaguchi said she will also have Yorizumi Watanabe, a professor of international trade and economy at Otsuma Women’s University, serve as deputy director general of the Economic Affairs Bureau.

Watanabe’s appointment, effective May 1, is part of the measures Kawaguchi is taking to reform the ministry through the selection of capable outside personnel for senior posts.

The professor will be the first person from outside the civil service to hold a position at bureau deputy director general level or higher at the ministry’s Tokyo headquarters.

Watanabe, 48, specializes in issues related to the World Trade Organization and the European Union. He will handle negotiations in the new round of trade liberalization talks under the auspices of the WTO and work to strengthen economic relations with the EU, Kawaguchi said.

“Professor Watanabe has extensive experience in the field of international economics,” she told a news conference. “And I expect him to breathe fresh air into the Foreign Ministry from the private sector.”

Watanabe served from 1990 to 1997 as economic affairs officer at the Geneva secretariat of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, precursor to the WTO, and from 1985 to 1988 as special assistant at Japan’s Permanent Mission to the International Organizations in Geneva.

ODA panel sets date

A new Foreign Ministry council tasked with formulating policies on official development assistance will begin work in May, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Friday.

Kawaguchi said she will head the new ODA strategy council, the establishment of which was recommended last month by an ODA reform panel.

Toshio Watanabe, a professor of development studies at Takushoku University in Tokyo, will be vice chairman of the new council, Kawaguchi told a news conference.

Watanabe served as head of the ODA reform panel, which was charged with making Japan’s ODA policy more transparent and effective.

Other members of the council will be named from the academic, private and nongovernmental sectors shortly.

The council will submit recommendations to the foreign minister regarding aid project priorities and the mapping out of international aid plans.

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