Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced his new reshuffled cabinet on Monday afternoon, including the appointment of senior Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) member Koriki Jojima to be the new Finance Minister. The change in lineup is seen as a hopeful way for Noda to begin salvaging the damaged ties with China, as well as boost his party’s declining popularity. Koichiro Genba, the current Foreign Minister, was one of the party’s mainstays that kept his position.
In addition to Jojima, Seiji Maehara and Makiko Tanaka, both former foreign ministers were given new cabinet positions of national policy minister and education minister, respectively. As the diplomatic row with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands continues to be a major issue, Tanaka is seen as a key symbol with pro-Beijing credentials. She is the daughter of former prime minister Kakuei Tanaka, who was responsible for normalizing relations with China exactly 40 years ago. She herself also served as foreign minister under former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi.
It is also believed that Prime Minister Noda hopes to take advantage of the strong speaking skills of both Maehara and Tanaka during the next general election. Noda’s popularity among the public has been low recently, the result of a costly struggle to get his bill passed that will double Japan’s sales tax. General elections are required within the next year, but are expected to happen anytime in the coming months due to disagreements with the opposing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).[via Channel News Asia]