The government at a cabinet meeting on July 24 decided on personnel appointments to senior posts at the central government ministries and agencies. It steadfastly maintained Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy of actively appointing female staff to senior posts and promoting personnel exchanges among ministries. In the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), a senior official who is acclaimed by the Prime Minister’s Office was promoted to an important post. A mid-career METI official says that the appointments seem to be “reward-oriented.”
The government decided to “send back” Hiroaki Niihara, 58, the Cabinet Office’s Director-General for economic and fiscal management, to METI to take up the post of Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau director general, which is considered to be the highest of all bureau director general posts at METI. The decision sent shock waves through Nagatacho, Japan’s political center, and Kasumigaseki, where the government ministries and agencies are concentrated. Niihara was in charge of managing the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, which serves as a control tower for Abenomics, a showcase policy of the Abe administration. He devoted himself to materialize such government-prioritized issues as the tuition-free education program and the work-style reform by teaming up with Abe’s executive secretary Takaya Imai, who is also originally from METI.
The Ministry of Defense (MOD), which will soon compile the National Defense Program Guidelines, will name Kenichi Takahashi, 60, chief of the minister’s secretariat, as new administrative vice minister. He is well versed in defense policy and highly rated by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and other members of the Prime Minister’s Office.
METI Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau Director General Hiroyuki Suematsu, 59, will assume the post of administrative vice minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF). He is originally from MAFF and spent two years at METI handling industrial science and technology policies. Suematsu’s appointment symbolizes personnel exchanges among ministries.
Yumiko Jozuka, 56, director general of the Social Welfare and War Victims’ Relief Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), will be the first female chief of the minister’s secretariat including the now defunct Ministry of Health and Welfare and also now defunct Ministry of Labor. She will be the third woman to take up a bureau director general-level post in the ministry.
MAFF’s Deputy Director-General for Export Promotion Yutaka Arai, 55, will be promoted to director general of the ministry’s Food Industry Affairs Bureau. She will be the first female bureau director general at MAFF.