Japan's new PM names cabinet

Mix of old and fresh faces in Naoto Kan's team as he seeks to boost ruling party's image.

    Naoto Kan took over from Yukio Hatoyama as prime minister of Japan last week [AFP]

    "I regard this cabinet as young, fresh and enthusiastic about their jobs."

    The cabinet will be formally inaugurated at a palace ceremony with Emperor Akihito on Tuesday evening.

    Several key figures from the previous administration of Yukio Hatoyama stayed in their posts, including foreign minister Katsuya Okada, defence minister Toshimi Kitazawa and transport minister Seiji Maehara.

    But Kan added several new faces as he seeks to distance his government from the previous one, which was bogged down by broken campaign promises and financial
    scandals.

    DPJ performance

    The new cabinet will have to boost an economy that is the slowest growing in Asia [EPA]

    Japan is the slowest growing economy in Asia, and is expected to be overtaken in size by China sometime this year.

    While Japanese exports and factory output have shown some signs of recovery following the global financial crisis, unemployment and deflation are worsening.

    Kan, who formerly served as finance minister and deputy prime minister, was appointed prime minister last week after  Hatoyama quit amid plummeting popularity ratings, triggered by his inability to deliver on a campaign promise to relocate a controversial US military base off the island of Okinawa.

    Hatoyama had been in office for barely eight months.

    As prime minister, Kan will have to hit the ground running to rally voter support and revive his party's battered image ahead of next month's elections for the upper house of parliament.

    The July poll is being seen as a referendum on the DPJ's performance since its landslide win in last August's lower house election which unseated the long-ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party.

    Kan's reputation and common roots - in contrast to several of the previous
    leaders who all hailed from politically elite families - could boost the
    DPJ's fortunes, analysts have said.

    Recent polls have also shown that the DPJ has already won back a measure of
    voter trust.

    A poll published on Tuesday in the national Sankei newspaper showed that 57 per cent of respondents had high expectations for the new government, and support for the party had recovered to 31 per cent, against 18 per cent before Hatoyama stepped down.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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