• Kyodo

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The Finance Ministry reshuffled its top brass Tuesday, with Budget Bureau chief Mitsuru Ota promoted to the highest-ranking bureaucrat and International Bureau head Kenji Okamura to the currency diplomat.

Ota, 60, who has been leading the bureau tasked with compiling state budgets since July 2018, will replace Shigeaki Okamoto, 59, as vice finance minister Monday, when the new appointments will be effective.

During Ota’s tenure as Budget Bureau chief, Japan raised the consumption tax rate from 8 percent to 10 percent last October.

Prior to that, Ota as chief of the Financial Bureau attracted media attention in 2017 as he spoke in parliamentary sessions about the ministry’s doctoring of documents over the controversial sale of state land to a school operator with ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife Akie.

“The Finance Ministry is said to have lost credibility due to the scandal, so I take it for granted that (officials) continue to make efforts toward the ministry’s restoration,” Finance Minister Taro Aso said at a news conference.

Okamura, 58, named as new vice finance minister for international affairs, will be succeeding Yoshiki Takeuchi, 60.

At the Financial Services Agency, Ryozo Himino, 60, vice minister for international affairs, will lead the financial watchdog after the current commissioner Toshihide Endo, 61, also effective Monday.

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