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The government will appoint Hirohiko Fukushima, former mayor of Abiko, Chiba Prefecture, as secretary general of the Consumer Affairs Agency, Satoshi Arai, state minister for consumer affairs, said Friday.

While it remains undecided when the appointment will take effect, Arai told a news conference that Fukushima, 53, currently a professor at Chuogakuin University, will accomplish his duties “as he engaged in consumer administration as a mayor.”

Fukushima’s appointment is in line with the government’s plan to appoint private citizens to key posts.

Uichiro Niwa, adviser to trading house Itochu Corp., has been appointed as Japan’s ambassador to China.

Fukushima served as Abiko mayor from January 1995 to January 2007 and was a member of a team set up by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to weed out waste in government programs.

The government will also appoint another private citizen as deputy director general for economic research at the Cabinet Office this summer, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku.

In addition, the government will subject 18 senior bureaucrat posts to personnel exchanges across ministries and agencies, in addition to 22 such posts designated earlier for such exchanges.

The new cross-agency exchanges will involve bureau directors general for the first time since the central government’s reorganization in 2001.

The moves are viewed as demonstrating politicians’ leadership in the management of the bureaucracy under the government led by the DPJ, which ousted the Liberal Democratic Party from power in last summer’s general election.

“In a bid to eliminate agency-by-agency sectionalism and enhance the Cabinet’s integrity, the Cabinet will positively promote cross-agency personnel exchanges under its leadership,” Sengoku said.

Top METI bureaucrat

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima plans to promote senior ministry official Kazuo Matsunaga as next vice minister, succeeding the retiring Harufumi Mochizuki, according to the ministry.

Matsunaga, 58, currently heads the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau. His appointment as METI’s top bureaucrat will take effect July 30.

Matsunaga is known for helping to craft METI’s Industrial Structural Vision, which was the basis of the government’s recently compiled new growth strategy that seeks to bring the nation out of its economic stagnation.

In 1974, he joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the predecessor of METI. He assumed his current position in July 2008 after taking up such posts as chief of the minister’s secretariat.

Deputy Vice Minister Kenyu Adachi, 57, will succeed Matsunaga as the bureau’s chief.

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