Aso becomes Japan's longest-serving finance minister since the war

JIJI, Kyodo

Taro Aso on Monday became Japan’s longest-serving finance minister since the war, marking 1,875 days in office, a day more than Kiichi Miyazawa, the previous record-holder.

Asked to comment Friday, Aso merely said that serving for a long time was not a goal.

Aso, who was appointed on Dec. 26, 2012, by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been struggling to pull the nation out of deflation and rebuild its tattered finances.

Though responsible for supporting Abenomics, Abe’s three-pronged growth policy, Japan’s hasn’t yet achieved the 2 percent inflation target set by the government and the Bank of Japan.

Years of robust performance by Japanese stocks, which Abe has touted as one of the achievements of Abenomics, have recently been overshadowed by major turmoil in the markets.

With the debts owed by the central and local governments topping ¥1 quadrillion, Japan has a long way to go toward restoring fiscal health. Last year, the Abe administration veered away from its 2020 goal of achieving a primary budget surplus for political reasons, and the second stage of the doubling of the consumption tax to 10 percent has been postponed twice. It is now set for October 2019.

Aso, who held high-level economic talks last year with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, is also a big manga fan, a former Olympic sharpshooter and grandson of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. He briefly served as prime minister from 2008 to 2009 as the global financial crisis unfolded.