09 March 2011

Japan Names a New Foreign Minister

Japan has named a new Foreign Minister, Takeaki Matsumoto, at a challenging time for ties with China and Russia.

The 51-year old former banker has been the vice foreign minister in Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government, which is struggling to survive.

The country's new leading diplomat comes from an illustrious family - he is a great great grandson of Japan's first prime minister.

Mr Matsumoto replaces Seiji Maehara who resigned due to a donations scandal.

Mr Kan's spokesman, Yukio Edano, said Mr Matsumoto had been chosen for his "capability, knowledge and to ensure continuity of diplomacy".

Japan has in recent days protested against a Chinese overflight of a Japanese ship in the disputed East China Seas.

It was the latest in a series of diplomatic battles over maritime territory, reflecting growing tension over the region's realignment of roles as China's economy and armed forces grow.

Japan is also in a territorial dispute with Russia over the south Kuril Islands.

The resignation of the previous foreign minister, Mr Maehara, was seen as a blow to Prime Minister Kan, who has been struggling to get budget bills through parliament and hold on to his own job.

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