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Japan's Abe adds hardliners to Cabinet, likely worsening ties with Seoul Updated: 2019-09-11 16:11:56 KST

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made major changes to his Cabinet on Wednesday to enhance his government's stability and effectively tackle major challenges.

He replaced 17 out of 19 Cabinet members the largest reshuffle since Abe retook office in 2012.
Deputy prime minister Taro Aso and chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga are the only aides who will keep their current posts.

This reshuffle involves some key ministers who will have a clear impact on the direction of Korea-Japan relations.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono has been named Japan's new defense minister.
Kono has taken a hardline stance on the South Korean Supreme Court's decision on forced labor and the two countries' military intelligence-sharing pact.
His shift to the defense ministry is a sign Abe will stick to his strong stance against Seoul.

And replacing Kono as foreign minister, will be Toshimitsu Motegi.
He was promoted for his part in negotiating a trade deal with the U.S., and is well known for having been a tough negotiator in the process.

Japan's export restrictions on Korea will now be overseen by Isshu Sugawara.
Also seen as a right-winger, Sugawara is expected to build on the administration's firm position in its trade conflict with Seoul.

And the education minister will be Koichi Hagiuda.
He's likely to continue to distort history in Japan's textbooks by including Japan's false claims to Dokdo Island and misrepresenting Japan's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II.

It's widely believed that the shake-up means relations between Seoul and Tokyo will get even worse.

"Naming ministers who've been playing important roles in relations with the U.S. reflects the possibility that Japan might try and use those ties to reinforce a hardline stance against Korea. But the new foreign minister could play a different role. Motegi generally appears hawkish, but he also seems to want dialogue with Korea. In that sense, this reshuffle is somewhat complex."

Also notable is Abe's pick of a rising star in Japanese politics, Shinjiro Koizumi, as his environment minister.
The son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, he's seen as a top contender to become the next leader.
His inclusion is seen as a way to win public support.

Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.
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