The government's diplomatic and defense leadership saw two surprise changes in Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday, with an Ivy League-educated former minister taking over as foreign minister — the first time in two decades a woman has held that post — and a new defense chief arriving amid dramatic shifts in Japan’s defense posture.

For Yoko Kamikawa, her appointment as foreign minister marks a return to the Cabinet — she held the justice portfolio twice under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and then again between 2020 and 2021.

As one of five female Cabinet ministers, Kamikawa is Japan’s first female foreign minister since Yoriko Kawaguchi served in the post under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi between 2002 and 2004.