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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Japan's PM overhauls cabinet

The prime minister has brought coalition partners into the cabinet

By BBC Tokyo Correspondent Juliet Hindell

Japan's prime minister has announced a new cabinet line-up in a reshuffle that had been delayed because of the nuclear accident at Tokaimura last week.

In a coalition with two other parties Keizo Obuchi has kept some key economic posts the same to ensure continuity and brought back some old faces from the past.

He has also changed the head of the Science and Technology Agency. The new minister will lead the investigation into the country's worst nuclear accident.

The new coalition gives the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a majority in both houses of Japan's parliament.

[ image: Staying put: Finance minister Miyazawa]
Staying put: Finance minister Miyazawa
In a nod to the two parties that have joined the LDP, the new transport minister is a member of the Liberal Party and the new head of the Management and Co-ordination Agency is from the Komeito Party.

But stressing the need for continuity where the economy is concerned, 79-year-old Kiichi Miyazawa stays on as finance minister, and Taichi Sakaiya, a writer who is not an elected politician, remains as head of the Economic Planning Agency.

Mr Miyazawa immediately called for more government spending to support the economy.

[ image: The reshuffle was delayed following the nuclear accident]
The reshuffle was delayed following the nuclear accident
On being selected, the new head of the Science and Technology Agency, Hirofumi Nakasone, referring to last Thursday's accident, said Japan needed nuclear energy and therefore the government had to prove to the people that it was safe.

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi will visit the site of the accident on Wednesday, but some say by changing the minister in charge of the investigation the government is dodging responsibility.

In other key posts, Yohei Kono is the foreign minister, a job he has done before, and Michio Ochi takes over at the Financial Reconstruction Commission.

Only two cabinet members are under the age of 60 and only one is a woman, 63-year-old Kayoko Shimizu at the Environment Agency.

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