FACTBOX: Possible picks for new Japan cabinet

Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:02am EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Japan's next prime minister, Taro Aso, will form a cabinet after he formally assumes the post on Wednesday, as he confronts sensitive ties with neighboring China, a feisty opposition and an economy heading towards recession.

Aso, an outspoken former foreign minister, succeeds Yasuo Fukuda, who resigned abruptly this month. Some Japanese media have said Aso would retain many ministers, including Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe and popular female lawmaker Seiko Noda, the minister in charge of consumer affairs.

Below are profiles of other lawmakers who have been floated as possible new cabinet ministers in the ruling coalition led by Aso's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

KUNIO HATOYAMA

Hatoyama is a grandson of a former prime minister and brother of main opposition Democratic Party Secretary-General Yukio Hatoyama. The 60-year-old lawmaker has had a complex political career. He left the LDP in 1994, served briefly in an anti-LDP government, and took part in the formation of the precursor to the current Democratic Party before returning to the LDP in 2000.

Controversy dogged Hatoyama during his stint as justice minister under former prime minister Shinzo Abe and in outgoing premier Yasuo Fukuda's first cabinet. He was rebuked by the top government spokesman for saying a "friend of a friend" was a member of al Qaeda who had entered the country on various passports, and was referred to as the "Grim Reaper" in a newspaper column for approving a record number of executions.

SHOICHI NAKAGAWA

Nakagawa, 55, who has held the trade and agriculture portfolios, has courted controversy in the past. In 2006, he cause an uproar by saying Japan -- the only country to have been hit by atomic bombs -- should debate whether to acquire nuclear weapons, after nuclear and missile test launches by North Korea.

An outspoken critic of China, Nakagawa once likened Beijing to a "thief" stealing a wallet in a dispute over maritime energy resources and warned last year that China's increasing military capabilities could result in Japan becoming just another Chinese province in the future.   Continued...