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Updated: September 16, 2009 21:06 IST

Hatoyama takes office as Premier

P. S. Suryanarayana
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Yukio Hatoyama, who has been elected Prime Minister, seen addressing members of his Democratic Party of Japan in Tokyo recently. Photo: AP.
Yukio Hatoyama, who has been elected Prime Minister, seen addressing members of his Democratic Party of Japan in Tokyo recently. Photo: AP.

Yukio Hatoyama was on Wednesday appointed as Japan’s Prime Minister following his party’s landslide victory in the August 30 general election.

Mr. Hatoyama was appointed as Prime Minister at the plenary sessions of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors in Tokyo. He became the 60th person to hold this office and the 93rd Prime Minister.

Mr. Hatoyama’s formal election was a foregone conclusion, given the scale of the popular mandate he secured for his centre-left coalition. With his assumption of office, the curtain came down over a half-century of conservative rule in Japan, which was interrupted by a brief interlude of alternative politics for less than a year in the early 1990s.

Having promised a “historic change” of bringing about responsive governance and placing people as the heart of public administration, Mr. Hatoyama announced a Cabinet line-up to get going.

A former Finance Ministry mandarin, Hirohisa Fujii was named Finance Minister, a crucial post in the world’s second largest economy, battered by a recession for nearly a year now.

Katsuya Okada, a former secretary-general of Mr. Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan, was appointed Foreign Minister. This post is also seen critical as the Prime Minister wants to chart an “autonomous foreign policy” of “close” but “equal” relations with the United States, long-time military ally. Mr. Hatoyama has also pledged to develop “relations of mutual trust” with China, with whom Japan has often had a rocky equation.

Another key Cabinet appointment was Naoto Kan as Minister in Charge of a New National Strategy Bureau. The planned bureau would be the nucleus of responsive governance, Mr. Hatoyama has already indicated. Mr. Kan is the acting president of the new ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan.

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