TOKYO: New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, elected by parliament on Wednesday after pledging to pursue his predecessor Shinzo Abe's policies, formed a 20-member Cabinet that retains many previous ministers. Here are some key appointees:
DEFENSE MINISTER: Nobuo Kishi (new) — Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's younger brother, he was adopted soon after birth by his mother's brother, who was childless. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was a deeply conservative former prime minister. He has close ties to Taiwan and its president, Tsai Ing-wen. Like Abe, Kishi is known for his conservative political stance and advocacy of the revision of Japan(asterisk)s pacifist constitution. A trading company employee for 21 years, Kishi entered politics in 2004.
FOREIGN MINISTER: Toshimitsu Motegi (retained) — A trade minister in Abe's earlier Cabinet, Motegi was a key figure in reaching a toughly negotiated U.S. trade deal following demands from President Donald Trump that Japan narrow the countries' trade imbalance. University of Tokyo and Harvard-educated Motegi was first elected to parliament in 1993.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER and FINANCE MINISTER: Taro Aso (retained) — A governing party heavyweight who served as prime minister for one year, Aso was an influential lawmaker in the Abe government. He was a key backer of “Abenomics,” which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms. Gaffe-prone Aso has made a series of remarks deemed insensitive and discriminatory. Aso, a Catholic, is the grandson of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who served after World War II when Japan was under U.S. occupation.
ECONOMY, TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER: Hiroshi Kajiyama (retained) — The son of former Justice Minister Seiroku Kajiyama, whom Suga admires as a mentor, landed a career after finishing university at a nuclear fuel and reactor organization now called Japan Atomic Energy Agency before being elected to parliament in 2000. Kajiyama received his current post last year after his predecessor resigned over election fraud allegations a month after being appointed. Kajiyama has dealt with export control disputes with South Korea and faces the problem of what to do with massive amounts of radioactive water stored in tanks at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
OLYMPIC MINISTER: Seiko Hashimoto (retained) — Also in charge of women’s empowerment. Hashimoto is one of two women in Suga’s Cabinet. She competed in seven Olympic Games, a record for a Japanese woman, in speed skating and bicycling, and won a bronze medal in Albertville in 1992. Born days before the start of the 1964 Tokyo Games, she was named after the Olympic flame.