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   Home-Specials-60th Anniversary of War Against Japanese Aggression-Sino-Japan Relationship
China critic gets key cabinet post in Japan
Latest Updated by 2005-11-01 10:45:48

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appointed hawkish Shinzo Abe as Japan's top government spokesman in a cabinet reshuffle yesterday, strengthening Abe's position as a candidate to succeed the prime minister next year.

Koizumi, who led his Liberal Democratic Party to a landslide win in an election last month, has said that he will step down when his term as party head ends next September and that he would appoint potential successors to key spots in the reshuffle.

Abe, who has close ties to Koizumi, has gained political capital through his support for the families of Japanese reportedly abducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, and his frequent calls for economic sanctions against Pyongyang.

Abe is also a hawk on security issues and an outspoken critic of China.

Abe supports Koizumi's annual visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine a symbol of Japan's past militarism, and regularly pays homage there himself.

"Up to now I have also, as a citizen...made visits. I would likely continue to hold such feelings from now on," Abe told a news conference yesterday.

The 51-year-old Abe consistently tops Japanese media polls of voters' preferences for who should succeed Koizumi, who has been in office since April 2001.

Abe brushed off the succession issue during the news conference where he announced Koizumi's new cabinet. "I have never thought of myself as a Koizumi successor," he said.

Financial markets, focused on a new Bank of Japan economic report, showed little reaction to the cabinet announcements.

In a surprise, Koizumi excluded former chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda, seen as one of Abe's strongest rivals, from the cabinet and key party posts.

But Sadakazu Tanigaki and Taro Aso, who round out the media's "top four" list of candidates to take over from Koizumi, both remained in the cabinet Tanigaki retaining his post of finance minister and Aso, who was in charge of internal affairs, taking over as foreign minister from Nobutaka Machimura, who was dropped from cabinet.

Political analyst Atsuo Ito said it was hard to say who had benefited most from the reshuffle.

Editor: Yan

 
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By: Source:China Daily Website
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