Ex-wrestler, TV an­chor make Ja­pan’s new cab­i­net

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

A for­mer wrestler and a tele­vi­sion an­chor­woman j oined Ja­pan’s cab­i­net on Wed­nes­day, as part of a reshuf­fle by Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe hopes will re­fo­cus the na­tional po­lit­i­cal agenda on the econ­omy.

The premier has switched his fo­cus back to the coun­try’s flag­ging econ­omy af­ter ex­pend­ing po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal push­ing un­pop­u­lar se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion that could see Ja­panese troops fight­ing abroad for the first time in 70 years.

With this in mind, Abe pro­moted his Deputy Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Kat­sunobu Kato, 59, to a newly cre­ated port­fo­lio charged with en­cour­ag­ing greater work­force par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Kato, a for­mer fi­nance min­istry bu­reau­crat and a fa­ther of four daugh­ters, is also tasked with tack­ling the de­clin­ing birthrate and fe­male em­pow­er­ment — a key el­e­ment of the so- called Abe­nomics re­forms un­leashed more than two years ago.

In the com­ing decades Ja­pan faces the threat of se­vere la­bor short­ages and boom­ing wel­fare costs in a coun­try with a rapidly ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and one of the world’s low­est birth rates.

The Ja­panese prime min­is­ter re­tained about half of the cur­rent 19 cab­i­net mem­bers, in­clud­ing those head­ing up the key fi­nance, for­eign af­fairs and eco­nom­ics min­istries.

Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga an­nounced the new line- up af­ter Abe col­lected letters of res­ig­na­tion from min­is­ters at a noon meet­ing.

Abe has re­peat­edly said wom- en are a key part of his flag­ship bid to kick- start the world’s num­ber three econ­omy and he has pushed for them to fill more se­nior roles in pol­i­tics and busi­ness.

Yet the premier ap­pointed only three fe­male law­mak­ers as min­is­ters, down from five ap­pointed in the shake- up in Septem­ber last year, two of whom are new.

Ta­mayo Marukawa, a 44-yearold for­mer tele­vi­sion an­chor­woman, was ap­pointed en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter while 50- yearold Aiko Shi­ma­jiri was given the port­fo­lio in charge of Ok­i­nawa and the north­ern ter­ri­to­ries.

The ex­pected re­duc­tion in fe­male cab­i­net mem­bers comes less than two weeks af­ter Abe vowed to push ini­tia­tives for women’s em­pow­er­ment at a United Na­tions meet­ing in New York.

Hiroshi Hase, a col­or­ful 54- year- old pro­fes­sional wrestler- turned- politi­cian, was given the ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio.

His pre­de­ces­sor, Hakubun Shi­mo­mura, had of­fered to re­sign last month over his in­volve­ment in aban­doned plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics main sta­dium af­ter the venue’s eye­wa­ter­ing US$ 2 bil­lion price tag sparked a public back­lash.

Abe asked him to stay on un­til the reshuf­fle.

Yoshi­masa Hayashi, a 54- year- old Up­per House law­maker who in 2012 lost the race for the Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party lead­er­ship post against Abe, was re­placed as agri­cul­ture min­is­ter by Hiroshi Moriyama, af­ter serv­ing less than a year in the post.

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