Since the new Cabinet was announced on Sept. 11, the focus has been on Shinjiro Koizumi as environment minister. Described by some as earnest but lacking in substantive ideas, the 38-year-old lawmaker has tried to make the most of the spotlight, commenting on Japan’s role in addressing climate change and visiting Fukushima Prefecture to assure residents that he’s aware the stricken nuclear reactor has ruined their lives. The timing of the appointment was especially opportune in that it coincided with the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York, although Koizumi may have forfeited some of the international climate crisis community’s good will by dining out at an expensive steak house the night before the summit. Beef production is increasingly cited as a prime culprit of global warming.

One person who is definitely unimpressed with Koizumi, but for different reasons, is his predecessor, Yoshiaki Harada, who advocated for releasing water tainted by radioactive tritium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean. Koizumi has said he prefers looking for a different solution.

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