New Abe Cabinet shifts into full gear

New Abe Cabinet shifts into full gear

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reshuffled second Cabinet went into full swing Thursday morning with new ministers taking over duties from their predecessors and giving instructions to officials.

"On a new note from today, I'll make all-out efforts to revitalize the nation's economy and vitalize local economies," Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister's Office in the morning.

"I have to coordinate between ministries and agencies," Vitalizing Local Economy Minister Shigeru Ishiba said on a TBS programme at noon, referring to a budget related to the vitalization of local economies in fiscal 2015. He stressed that he will actively negotiate with other ministers on the matter, saying, "I must go to other ministers' offices to talk about it in person."

Wataru Takeshita, state minister for reconstruction, gave instructions to about 50 officials at the Reconstruction Agency's Fukushima Bureau of Reconstruction and Revitalization in Fukushima.

"People doubted if a person who is not from a disaster-stricken area can really perform duties as state minister for reconstruction, but I will surely win people's trust by putting my heart into reconstruction more actively than those who are from disaster-stricken areas and want to help reconstruction," Takeshita said.

Takeshita then met with Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato at the Fukushima prefectural government office. "I'll do my utmost to rejuvenate Fukushima," Takeshita said during the meeting.

After the meeting, Takeshita told reporters that he will seek to extend the government-set intensive reconstruction period. The government set aside ¥25 trillion for reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake during the intensive reconstruction period between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2015.

"I will put my life on the line to secure a budget because [reconstruction] will never end after five years," Takeshita said.

Justice Minister Midori Matsushima, who like Takeshita joined a cabinet for the first time, took over duties from her predecessor, Sadakazu Tanigaki, at the justice minister's office.

"I put the ministry in your hands," said Tanigaki, who was appointed secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party in the shakeup of the party's top executives on Wednesday. Matsushima replied solemnly, "I will not let you down."

At the Defence Ministry, former Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera gave a speech during a farewell ceremony.

"Thanks to activities carried out by reliable Self-Defence Forces personnel, the Defence Ministry and the SDF have become organisations that the people can trust," Onodera said tearfully.

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