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Japan's Noda appoints 22 senior vice ministers, eyeing party unity.

TOKYO, Sept. 5 Kyodo

Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Monday appointed 22 Diet members as senior vice ministers, with an eye to bolstering ruling party unity and speeding postdisaster reconstruction.

Noda, who heads the Democratic Party of Japan, picked DPJ lower house member Tenzo Okumura, an ally of kingpin Ichiro Ozawa who did not back Noda in the party's presidential election last week, as senior vice minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology.

Noda also tapped DPJ lower house member Ikko Nakatsuka, who is also close to Ozawa, as senior vice minister of the Cabinet Office, apparently to maintain harmony within the party.

To speed up reconstruction efforts, Noda appointed DPJ lower house member Toru Kikawada, who was elected from Iwate, one of the three prefectures hit hardest by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, as senior vice minister of internal affairs and communications.

Among other DPJ lawmakers picked for key positions were lower house member Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi and upper house member Ryuji Yamane, who were both appointed to the post of state secretary for foreign affairs, a title used by the Foreign Ministry for its senior vice minister, and lower house member Shu Watanabe, who became senior vice defense minister.

Noda, finance minister under the government of his predecessor Naoto Kan, decided to retain DPJ lower house member Fumihiko Igarashi as a senior vice finance minister to ensure the continuity of fiscal policy, at a time when the country faces a major issue of whether to fund reconstruction work through tax hikes. DPJ upper house member Yukihisa Fujita was newly tapped as another senior vice finance minister.

The Cabinet also appointed 26 lawmakers as parliamentary secretaries, the No. 3 ministerial posts.

In an effort to move diplomatic policy forward, Noda tapped former Parliamentary Defense Secretary Akihisa Nagashima as special adviser to the premier for foreign and defense matters.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Sep 6, 2011
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