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Japan: Challenges ahead as new cabinet is sworn in

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Japan: Challenges ahead as new cabinet is sworn in


Diplomacy and the economy are the key concerns of Japan’s new, more female-friendly cabinet, which has just been sworn in.

It is the result of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s first reshuffle since returning to office in December 2012.

With five female newcomers, seven women now hold cabinet posts.

Among those being presented to Emperor Akihito in a formal approval ceremony was Yuko Obuchi, 40, the daughter of a former premier. She is now the trade and industry minister.

In Tokyo, the changes, including her appointment, have met a mixed reaction.

“I don’t think they are seeing people who are really suffering,” said one woman.

“Even though she has children, her own parents are politicians and she won’t understand how ordinary households with kids and no income feel.”

“They are harping on about Abenomics,” one man said, giving the nickname for the premier’s growth strategy.

“But I don’t think it has trickled down to the common man yet. Basic salaries are going up but so are taxes.”

As well as trying to turn the economy around, Abe’s other challenge is repairing Japan’s strained relationship with China.

In a twin revamp, he has given two senior positions in his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to Beijing-friendly figures – in an apparent signal of hope for a thaw in chilly ties.

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