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Japan's new PM Fumio Kishida takes office, announces new Cabinet Updated: 2021-10-05 17:10:40 KST

Fumio Kishida has become Japan's new prime minister following a parliamentary vote on Monday.
He was elected leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party last week, and has now been officially confirmed to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Following Monday's vote, Kishida announced his new Cabinet with key posts given to close allies of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
This includes, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, and trade minister Koichi Hagiuda.
Of the 20 posts, only two of Suga's Cabinet members retained their seats
foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi and defense minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe's younger brother.
There are also three women and as many as 13 ministers who have no previous cabinet experience.
The new team has an average age of 61.8 years, higher than the 60.4 years at the time of Suga's inauguration last year.
Kishida's administration is tasked with leading Tokyo out of the coronavirus pandemic as well as reviving its stagnating economy.
He vowed to bolster the country's coronavirus responseand said he would consider COVID-19 relief payouts.

"I would like to consider cash payouts targeted to those hardest hit by the pandemic who are also in vulnerable positions such as women, non-regular workers and students. In the future, we would like to decide on how much cash payouts we will make after discussing the specific plans."

On foreign policy, Kishida is expected to support a strong alliance with the US and address security threats from China and North Korea.
The 64 year-old said he is open to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without any preconditions.
Attention is also drawn to how Kishida's government will approach and resolve Seoul and Tokyo's sour relations.
The two sides have long been at odds over territory and other historical issues, including the South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule.
Experts say that it will be hard to see an immediate change in their bilateral ties.

"Since Japan is expected to be busy with its domestic issues, such as coping with COVID-19 and reviving the economy, foreign policies like Seoul-Tokyo relations may not be its top priority. Also, Japan has a general election coming up soon, so it would not be easy for Kishida to make major shifts to his political stance."

Many experts believe that Japan is unlikely to risk going against the public sentiment to normalize relations with South Korea, especially ahead of a general election.
The new prime minister plans to dissolve parliament next Thursday and hold a parliamentary election by the end of this month.
Min Suk-hyen, Arirang News.
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