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Ex-colleagues praise Kawaguchi's expertise in economic issues.

TOKYO, Feb. 1 Kyodo

Former colleagues at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of the newly-appointed Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi hailed the appointment Friday, citing her economic diplomacy.

''She is an appropriate person to pursue Japan's goal of balanced diplomacy, as she has experience in both U.S. and Asian relations,'' one senior official said.

After leading the ministry's bureau for economic assistance to developing countries, Kawaguchi served as an envoy in charge of economic issues to the United States between 1990 and 1992.

An official who worked with Kawaguchi in Washington said, ''She is a sharp-witted superwoman.''

''She speaks English fluently, and is versed in international economic affairs. She was popular also in Washington,'' the official said.

Kawaguchi, who had worked for the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry since 1965, also took charge of the compilation of an annual White Paper on International Trade and measures to lure foreign companies to Japan.

''She knows a lot about the economy,'' another senior official said, also referring to her experience as an executive of major beverage maker Suntory Ltd.

Kawaguchi left the ministry in 1993 and was the firm's managing director until she became the then Environment Agency chief in 2000 in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

Some political pundits doubt her capacity to reform the scandal-tainted Foreign Ministry as she had been a bureaucrat.

A different METI official expressed concern that Kawaguchi would have hard time rebuilding confidence in the ministry hit by scandals involving the misuse of taxpayers' money, but also expressed expectation that she will change Japan's diplomacy.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Feb 4, 2002
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