Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday appointed former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, a staunch advocate of raising the nation`s five percent sales tax and replaced Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, in a Cabinet reshuffle aimed at tackling public debt and rebuilding bridges with opposition parties, according to Xinhua.
Kan`s revamping of his Cabinet comes just ahead of the 150-day regular parliament session and at a time when the prime minister is facing the potentially gruelling task of getting opposition parties to sign on his record fiscal 2011 budget and other key bills.
Among Kan`s key changes to his Cabinet is the appointment of Yosano, who left a small opposition party Thursday. Kan picked him as minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, and social security reform.
Kan also appointed former Administrative Reform Minister Yukio Edano as his chief Cabinet Secretary. Edano replaces Yoshito Sengoku who was censured last year by the Upper House of parliament.
In addition, Hirohisa Fujii, a veteran Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lawmaker who was the first finance minister under the DPJ-led government, was appointed as deputy chief Cabinet secretary.
Other appointments included, Satsuki Eda, a former upper house president, who was named as justice minister, and Kansei Nakano, a former upper house vice president, who will be the National Public Safety Commission chief.
Meanwhile, Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata was replaced by Banri Kaieda, who was Yosano`s predecessor. And Ohata will now assume the position of transport minister.
The prime minister opted to keep on Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, banking minister Shozaburo Jimi and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa in their previous posts in the 17-member Cabinet.
Friday`s Cabinet reshuffle was Kan`s second since becoming prime minister and was aimed at boosting the Cabinet`s approval ratings which have nosedived from 60 percent since Kan took office to around 20 percent in recent surveys.
In addition, Kan will be looking to the new faces in his Cabinet to help bridge the divide between his own and opposition parties and to try to avoid policy statements as the DPJ no longer has sway over the less powerful Upper House of parliament.