Profiles of key ministers in Japan PM Abe's new cabinet

TOKYO Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:07pm IST

Japan's newly-elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves as he arrives at his official residence in Tokyo December 26, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Japan's newly-elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves as he arrives at his official residence in Tokyo December 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

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TOKYO (Reuters) - New Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his cabinet line-up on Wednesday after being voted in by parliament. Abe, a security hawk who quit as premier in 2007 after a troubled year in office, has made beating deflation and taming a strong yen with drastic monetary policy and big public works spending his first priority.

Below are brief profiles of key cabinet ministers.

TARO ASO (Finance Minister, Deputy Prime Minister)

A fan of "manga" comics and the grandson of a prominent post-World War Two premier, Aso served as prime minister from 2008-2009, leading his Liberal Democratic Party to a crushing defeat in August 2009. Well-versed in micro-economic matters, Aso crafted massive stimulus packages to try to offset the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. Scion of a wealthy family, he has been criticised for gaffes that offend groups from the elderly to parents but praised for being able to charm people at close range. Aso once upset South Korea with remarks that seemed to praise Japan's 1919-1945 colonial rule, but as premier forged good ties with Seoul and kept relations with China steady. Aso will also hold the financial services porfolio.

AKIRA AMARI (Minister for economic revival)

A former trade and industry minister, Amari worked briefly for electronics giant Sony Corp before entering politics as an aide to his lawmaker father and then winning election to the lower house in 1993. He is close to both Abe and Aso, having served in their cabinets. And he has taken credit for the LDP's "economic revival plan" aimed at beating deflation and a strong yen. He remained in favour of nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima radiation crisis and as trade minister pushed resource diplomacy.

YOSHIMASA HAYASHI (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)

Hayashi, who graduated from Tokyo University and Harvard, served in the previous Abe cabinet in 2006-2007 as a junior minister. Known for his expertise on economic and fiscal policy and close ties to the United States, Hayashi also held the post of defence minister briefly in 2008 and economics minister in 2009. He was a proponent of easy monetary policy and setting up a hotline with China to facilitate diplomatic talks to improve relations.

NOBUTERU ISHIHARA (Environment and nuclear crisis minister)

Ishihara came in behind Abe and ex-defence minister Shigeru Ishiba in the September LDP leadership race. The son of outspoken nationalist Shintaro Ishihara, a former governor of Tokyo who now leads the right-leaning Japan Restoration Party, he is seen as less extreme in his views than his father. Ishihara has previously served as transport and administrative reform minister, and was party secretary-general until Abe was elected party chief.

FUMIO KISHIDA (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

Kishida entered politics after working at the now-defunct Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and previously served as a state minister in charge of issues related to Okinawa island - host to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan - in Abe's first 2006-2007 cabinet. He is nominal head of an LDP faction previously led by the late Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and has an image as something of a foreign policy dove.

ITSUNORI ONODERA (Minister of Defence)

First elected to parliament's lower house in 1997, Onodera hails from Kesenuma in Miyagi prefecture, northeast Japan, hard-hit by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters. He twice served as parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs before becoming a senior vice-minister for foreign affiars in August 2007 under Abe's first administration.

TOSHIMITSU MOTEGI, (Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry)

A graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former management consultant at McKinsey & Company, Motegi got his start in politics in 1993 in a small opposition party that helped briefly eject the then-ruling Liberal Democratic Party from power. But after the LDP returned to power, he joined the long-dominant conservative party and went on to hold a number of posts, including vice foreign minister, vice trade minister and financial services minister.

HAKUBUN SHIMOMURA (Minister of Minister of Education)

An ultra-conservative close to Abe, Shimomura shares the incoming prime minister's desire to rewrite Japan's wartime history with a less apologetic tinge and put more patriotism in school curriculums. He also shares Abe's long-held goal of revising the 1947 pacifist constitution. He has previously served as parliamentary secretary for education and deputy chief cabinet secretary, the latter in Abe's first administration.

SADAKAZU TANIGAKI (Minister of Justice)

The Liberal Democrats picked Tanigaki, a former finance minister, as its new leader following their devastating defeat in 2009. A fiscal conservative, Tanigaki helped outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda push through legislation to double Japan's 5 percent sales tax by 2015 to help curb bulging public debt. But the gentlemanly Tanigaki came under fire for failing to get Noda to make good on a promise to call an election "soon", and he did not run in the September party leadership vote that picked Shinzo Abe as his successor.

ICHITA YAMAMOTO (Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs)

Yamamoto graduated with a master's degree from Washington's Georgetown University and worked for the United Nations Development Programme before winning election to parliament's upper house in 1995 from his father's constituency. Like Abe, Yamamoto has taken a tough line toward North Korea. He is a prolific blogger, played in a rock band in college and appears often on TV talk shows.

(Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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