TOKYO – Viewed as a possible future prime minister, new Defense Minister Taro Kono is known for his firm stance against South Korea over wartime history and trade issues, demonstrated once again during the recent heightened bilateral tensions with Seoul.
A fluent English speaker, Kono most recently served as foreign minister from August 2017 after holding government posts such as minister in charge of administrative reform and chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, a post that oversees Japanese police.
The 56-year-old maintains an active social media presence through his Twitter account, best represented by his smiling selfies with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying which went viral.
An eighth-term member of the House of Representatives and one-time staunch opponent of nuclear power generation, Kono was born into a family of politicians. His father Yohei Kono, a former speaker of the chamber, issued an apology statement in 1993 as chief Cabinet secretary on the issue of comfort women.