[ 2007-07-04 17:20 ]
Japan's newly appointed Defence Minister
Yuriko Koike reviews an honour
Defence Ministry in Tokyo July 4, 2007. Japan's first-ever female defence
minister, former TV presenter Koike, was appointed after her predecessor
Fumio Kyuma, was forced to quit over remarks at the weekend that appeared
to accept the 1945 US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Yuriko Koike became Japan's defense minister at a confirmation ceremony
Wednesday afternoon, succeeding Fumio Kyuma who resigned Tuesday over his
controversial remarks on the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan in World War II.
Koike, 54, special security adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, became
the first woman to assume the top defense post in the cabinet. Abe appointed her
Tuesday after accepting Kyuma's resignation in a swift move apparently aimed at
limiting any adverse impact on the July 29 House of Councillors election.
Koike separately said to reporters she will make efforts to heighten public
trust in the Abe administration and the government on the whole, adding Japan
must steadily work on building its defense power in light of the security
situation in the East Asian region.
She also said she wants to continue the ongoing dialogue with the United
States and emphasized the importance of making the Defense Ministry a more
"mobile organization" and boosting the morale of its staff and SDF members to
prevent scandals from happening again.
Koike is set to arrive at the ministry later Wednesday afternoon and hold a
press conference in the evening.
Prior to Koike's arrival, the Defense Ministry held a farewell ceremony for
Kyuma in the morning, with the outgoing minister thanking members of the
ministry and the Self-Defense Forces for their services.
Kyuma, 66, faced strong criticism not only from opposition parties but also
within Abe's ruling coalition parties for his weekend remarks which were taken
as justifying the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945,
dealing another blow to the already embattled Abe ahead of the July election.