Noda’s new Cabinet inclusive, fresh-faced

Ministerial picks court pro-Ozawa camp in attempt to reunify DPJ


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda formed his Cabinet on Friday, handing key posts to ministerial rookies, including Osamu Fujimura as chief Cabinet secretary and Jun Azumi as finance minister, and including supporters of Democratic Party of Japan heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa in an attempt to reunite the party.

The Cabinet was formally inaugurated with an attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace in the afternoon.

Fujimura, 61, a Lower House member who is considered one of Noda’s closest allies, will serve as the new administration’s top spokesman.

In a bid to restore unity in the ruling party, which is split into pro- and anti-Ozawa camps, Noda, 54, picked lawmakers close to indicted DPJ kingpin Ichiro Ozawa, including former DPJ Diet affairs chief Kenji Yamaoka and Yasuo Ichikawa, chief of the Upper House policy board.

Yamaoka, 68, was named chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, while Ichikawa, 69, was appointed defense minister.

Noda reportedly offered former DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada, 58, the post of chief Cabinet secretary, but Okada turned down the offer.

Noda’s choices for the new Cabinet put the “right persons in the right posts” to create a united government, Fujimura said at his first news conference as chief Cabinet secretary.

The Cabinet debuts at an inauspicious time, facing the daunting task of rebuilding from the March disasters, resolving the Fukushima nuclear meltdown crisis and weathering severe budgetary constraints.

Noda, who was finance minister under his predecessor, Naoto Kan, chose Azumi to fill his former post. It is the first Cabinet post for the former DPJ Diet affairs chief, who is considered a proponent of fiscal discipline.

National strategy minister Koichiro Genba, 47, was selected foreign minister. The 47-year-old is known to be a free-trade advocate.

Motohisa Furukawa, 45, assumed the post of national strategy minister and will concurrently serve as economic and fiscal policy minister. The former deputy chief Cabinet secretary was one of the key DPJ members who compiled a proposal over tax and social security reforms, including a contentious plan to hike the consumption tax.

Goshi Hosono, 40, retained his post as minister in charge of handling the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis, in a bid to ensure continuity, and will continue to double as environment minister. The government plans to establish by next April a new nuclear safety regulatory agency under the Environment Ministry.

Tatsuo Hirano, 57, will also remain in the post of reconstruction minister.

Noda retained Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano, 69, one of his four rivals in the DPJ’s presidential election Monday, in a move aimed at restoring internal party unity.

Postal reform minister Shozaburo Jimi, 65, a member of the DPJ’s coalition partner, Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), also retained his post.

Renho, 43, was reinstated as state minister in charge of administrative reform, a position she left in one of Kan’s Cabinet reshuffles. Noda has pledged to eliminate wasteful government expenditures.

Former DPJ Diet affairs chief Yoshio Hachiro, 63, was named economy, trade and industry minister.

Ex-education minister Tatsuo Kawabata, 66, was appointed internal affairs and communications minister, while Hideo Hiraoka, 57, state secretary for internal affairs and communications, became justice minister.

Masaharu Nakagawa, 61, a former senior vice minister for health, was handed the post of education minister, while Senior Vice Health Minister Yoko Komiyama, 62, was promoted to health, labor and welfare minister.

Takeshi Maeda, 73, a member of the Upper House Budget Committee, was named land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister.