National

Edano named as temporary minister: Kan

by Natsuko Fukue

Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Monday appointed Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano to temporarily double as foreign minister following Seiji Maehara’s Sunday resignation for accepting illegal donations from a foreign national.

Edano’s temporary appointment and Maehara’s resignation were approved at the day’s Cabinet meeting.

“I’ll make a quick decision” to name a new foreign minister, Kan said during a House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting Monday. “It’s a job that requires frequent travel, so I cannot ask the chief Cabinet secretary to double as the foreign minister for a long time.”

At a morning press conference, Edano said he is assuming Kan will choose someone for the position shortly, indicating a replacement will be named before the Group of Eight foreign ministerial talks scheduled for March 14 in Paris.

“As chief Cabinet secretary, I basically cannot go on an overseas trip,” Edano said.

Names being floated as foreign minister candidates include Senior Vice Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and former trade minister Masayuki Naoshima.

Finding a successor will not be easy because whoever fills Maehara’s shoes will have to deal with the contentious relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, be versed in foreign affairs and be able to deal with a hail of questions fired from the opposition camp during Diet sessions.

But given the tight diplomatic schedule, Kan told the budget committee meeting the next foreign minister must be selected soon.