Japan PM names new Foreign Affairs, Defence ministers in reshuffle

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday appointed Toshimitsu Motegi as the new Foreign minister, replacing Kono Taro, who moves to the Defence docket.

Abe also appointed a rising political star, Shinjiro Koizumi, as the Environment Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle that has been seen as preparation for his successor when he steps down in 2021. Shinjiro, 38, is the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

“Abe intends to start an open race to pick the next prime minister or even the one after that,” Al Jazeera quoted SMBC Nikko Securities chief market economist Yoshimasa Maruyama.

Abe is set to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister in November but is expected to step down at the Liberal Democratic Party leadership election in 2021 and the jostling for that position is underway.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma congratulated her new Japanese counterpart and said she looks forward to working with him.

“I warmly congratulate Hon. Toshimitsu Motegi for his appointment as the next Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan. I look forward to working with you as we strengthen the well-grounded relations between Kenya and Japan,” she said.

“I also extend similar compliments to Hon. Taro Kono on his appointment as the next Minister of Defence of Japan. We look forward to continued cooperation in your new portfolio,” she added.

Motegi, 63, was trade minister under Abe when the latter returned to power in 2012, tackling negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. He is from the Liberal Democratic Party.

“Educated at the University of Tokyo and Harvard, the English-speaking Motegi was first elected to the lower house in 1993 from the then-opposition Japan New Party. He joined the LDP in 1995,” Reuters note.

Kono, 56, on the other hand, is educated at Georgetown University and is a fluent English speaker. He served as minister for administrative reform and became Foreign minister in 2017.

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