• Kyodo News


Okada named No. 2

Katsuya Okada, the new secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, is known as an expert on foreign affairs and other policy matters, but he is often described as “fundamentalist” for the tenacity with which he sticks to his beliefs.

Although he is something of a maverick in the 12-year-old party and had hoped to stay on as foreign minister, the 57-year-old Okada will need to bring unity to the party split by Tuesday’s leadership election.

In announcing his acceptance of the party’s No. 2 post offered by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, he said it was “heaven’s will.” He backed the prime minister in Tuesday’s contest, in which Kan was re-elected DPJ leader by a narrow majority in terms of votes from fellow Diet members.

After assuming the post of foreign minister last September, Okada won acclaim by quickly ordering the ministry to look into a secret Japan-U.S. pact regarding the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan. But he is partly to blame for creating chaos over the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture in the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who abruptly resigned in June amid sagging voter support, partly due to the base dispute.

Genba, policy chief

Koichiro Genba retained his post as the DPJ’s policy chief. He is considered a prospective next-generation political leader and has been an advocate of fiscal rehabilitation.

The 46-year-old Lower House member from the Fukushima No. 3 district set up a study group on government finances in May. He believes in shoring up the country’s tattered public finances through an increase in the consumption tax.

Genba was first elected to the Lower House in 1993. He joined the DPJ in 1998.

Hachiro as Diet chief

Yoshio Hachiro, new chairman of the DPJ’s Diet Affairs Committee, previously served in the same post when the party was in the opposition.

The manner in which he dealt with the ruling camp led by the LDP — marked by his unwillingness to compromise — led to criticism from some within the DPJ that he was taking too hard of a line.

He will be tasked with steering the divided Diet.

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