05 August 2017

News Story: Abe picks maverick as foreign minister in move to refresh Cabinet image

Tarō Kōno (Image: Wiki Commons)
Seeking to shift public sentiment after a string of scandals involving both himself and former Cabinet members triggered an approval numbers nosedive, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe named ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) "maverick" Taro Kono as foreign minister during an Aug. 3 Cabinet shuffle.

The appointment of a new foreign minister became a key issue in the Cabinet reshuffle as soon as it became certain that former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, now the LDP's policy chief, would be replaced. While the names of former state minister Katsunobu Kato and former economy minister Toshimitsu Motegi -- both of whom are in the new Abe Cabinet -- had come up as post-Kishida candidates, the prime minister picked administrative reform specialist Kono.

Kono told reporters following the Cabinet's inauguration, "This is my first time working in the Foreign Ministry. I'm succeeding Mr. Kishida, and am determined to do my best."

Kono having no experience at the Foreign Ministry does not mean he has no experience in diplomacy. He studied at Georgetown University in Washington and has built his own network in the United States. Prime Minister Abe expressed high hopes for Kono on Aug. 3, saying, "He has been to the United States many times and made friends there. He has also had exchanges with American politicians. I'm sure he'll serve (as minister) with an understanding of how to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance."

Furthermore, Kono's father Yohei is one of the best known doves within the LDP, and has served in key posts from foreign minister and party president to House of Representatives speaker. Some Foreign Ministry officials say the appointment of Kono will be viewed favorably by China and South Korea.

Read the full story at The Mainichi