Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda reshuffled 10 cabinet posts this Monday, drawing raps from the opposition. Opposition politicians have criticized the new lineup, questioning the qualifications of the new members.
One such change is the appointment of former foreign minister Makiko Tanaka, daughter of former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. While she is popular for her sharp tongue, Liberal Democratic Party secretary general Shigeru Ishiba is doubtful whether she has adequate insight into education and science administration. This move is largely seen as an attempt to improve ties with China, with whom Japan is currently engaged in a territorial dispute of the Senkaku islands. Tanaka is believed to have ties with Chinese leaders through her father, who helped improve the country’s relationship with China in 1972.
Another change is that of former Democratic Party of Japan policy chief Seiji Maehara who now sits as the national policy minister. New Komeito acting secretary general Tetsuo Saito sees the new appointments as moves to win public support in the next election in the Lower House. Communist Party affairs chief Keiji Kokuta says that Noda has chosen cabinet members who advocate his policies. Saito and Kokuta have earlier called on the prime minister to dissolve the lower house and call for a snap general election.