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Japanese PM reshuffles cabinet, prioritizes economy revitalization

English.news.cn   2014-09-03 21:25:14

TOKYO, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday carried out cabinet reshuffle for the first time since the previous one was launched in December 2012 and prioritized the subject of revitalizing Japan's economy.

The new lineup included 12 new faces and grouped five female ministers. Local reports said the reshuffle, along with the executive lineup change within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), aimed at forging LDP's long-term rules based on a more solid party.

The prime minister said at a press conference after the reshuffle that the new cabinet will put economy revitalization as top priority.

Abe returned to power in late 2012 and introduced a series of economic policy dubbed "Abenomics" in a move to boost Japan's prolonged sluggish economy.

Analysts here said that as Financial Minister Taro Aso and State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari remained in their posts, the country would continue current financial policies featured by monetary easing.

The five female ministers' enrollment echoes Abe's "womenomics" as the prime minister hopes that they could call for more females to leave houses for offices so as to enlarge the size of Japan's labor force market.

Japan is trapped by low birthrates and serious ageing society and if working women were mobilized in the country, according to economists, some eight million workers could be added to the labor force, and they could help boost Japan's gross domestic product by 15 percent.

Although Abe said that "all five women are well qualified for those important Cabinet posts .. It's not about the number. I meant to have the right people in the right positions in the Cabinet," to enlisting a record number of female ministers itself has more symbolic meaning, according analysts here.

Meanwhile, the cabinet reshuffling also created a new ministerial post in charge of boosting regional economy.

"To bolster regional economies is one of the biggest challenges for the revamped Cabinet," Abe was quoted as saying, adding, "We have to squarely address problems unique to those regions, such as the declining birthrate and 'super-aging' societies."

Former LDP's Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba took the post. Ishiba is widely seen as a key rival to Abe, who also heads the LDP, in future party leadership race.

Abe's move to enroll Ishiba in the new cabinet lineup was read to weaken the potential competitor, while Ishiba's agreement to join in the cabinet was to avoid a factional conflict within the ruling party, according to local media, so as to forge a long-term governance by LDP.

On security policy, the prime minister vowed to gain public support on the country's defense stance overhaul which was opposed by the majority of Japanese people.

Japan in July gave green light to its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to exercise rights to collective self-defense, which will allow the SDF to combat overseas, running contrary to Japan's war- renouncing constitution that bans the SDF from using forces outside Japan.

The new Defense Minister Akinori Eto, who also doubles newly created minister in charge of national security legislation, will play a key role in overseeing legislation to give legal coat to the Abe Cabinet's decision on collective defense, according to local media.

Sanae Takaichi, former LDP's policy chief, replaced Yoshitaka Shindo as internal affairs and communication minister. Like Shindo, Takaichi, among a group of Japanese lawmakers, promoted visits to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 class-A Japanese war criminals during the World War II.

Takaichi also publicly called for a new statement on "comfort women" issue so as to replace the world-recognized "Kono Statement. "

The two issues closely relate to Japan's ties with its neighboring countries that suffered the country's brutal aggression and Japan's current relations with South Korea and China are strained partially due to the issues.

Support rate of the previous cabinet dropped to around 50 percent recently from a peak of over 70 percent due to the pass of Special Secrecy Bill, its green light to Japan's Self-Defense Forces to exercise rights to collective self-defense, as well as sales tax hike carried out in April this year.

Editor: Shen Qing
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