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Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has finalized plans for reshuffling senior ministry officials, including appointing Koro Bessho, deputy vice minister for foreign policy, as new deputy foreign minister for political affairs, ministry sources have said.

The official holding the deputy ministerial post is seen as a candidate for the next vice foreign minister, or the top bureaucratic post at the Foreign Ministry. The Cabinet is expected to endorse Bessho’s and other officials’ appointments Friday, when they will start assuming the new posts, the sources said.

Bessho, 57, also director general of the Foreign Policy Bureau, will succeed Kenichiro Sasae, 58, who will become new vice foreign minister, replacing Mitoji Yabunaka. Yabunaka, 62, will become an adviser to the Foreign Ministry, the sources said.

International Legal Affairs Bureau chief Koji Tsuruoka, 58, is expected to succeed Bessho as director general of the ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau.

Meanwhile, Okada has decided to keep officials who are in key assignments in their current posts, the sources said.

Among them are Yoichi Otabe, deputy minister for foreign affairs in charge of economic issues, and Akitaka Saiki, director general of the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau. Both are working on issues to be discussed in November at a Group of 20 summit in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Yokohama.

North American Affairs Bureau chief Kazuyoshi Umemoto, who cover such issues as the relocation of a key U.S. base in Okinawa, is also likely to stay, the sources said.

Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Bureau chief Satoru Sato, 57, has been picked for the post of foreign press secretary, and Masashi Mizukami, 56, ambassador to India, is set to succeed Sato.

Shigeo Matsutomi, 54, assistance vice minister at the Minister’s Secretariat, will be chief at the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau.

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