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Asia-pacific

New finance minister in government reshuffle

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-16

Hirohisa Fujii, a 77-year-old former bureaucrat who has been a vocal opponent of wasteful public spending in the past, announced on Wednesday that he had accepted the post of Japanese finance minister under incoming premier Yukio Hatoyama.

AFP - Hirohisa Fujii, a 77-year-old former bureaucrat who has railed against wasteful public spending, said Wednesday he had accepted the job of Japanese finance minister under incoming premier Yukio Hatoyama.
  
"I'm pleased to accept the offer," he told reporters outside his home, hours before a historic change of power in the world's number two economy, which is struggling to recover from its worst slump in decades.
  
"My view on life is that if you square your shoulders too much, your body becomes stiff. I'll work while being relaxed," he said.
  
The veteran lawmaker was briefly finance minister once before in the early 1990s.
  
He spent more than two decades with the finance ministry before entering politics -- experience that is likely to prove useful in his Democratic Party's efforts to reduce the iron grip of the bureaucrats on the economy.
  
Fujii "seems to be a very safe pair of hands," said Noriko Hama, a professor of economics at Doshisha Business School in Kyoto.
  
As a former bureaucrat "he knows all the ropes -- how to work with or work against the bureaucracy. Sending a man with a bureaucratic background to tackle the civil service is quite a creative idea," she said.
  
Fujii has been vocal in attacking the outgoing government's stimulus package, vowing to redirect what his party deems to be wasteful spending.
  
He has also said that in principle the government should refrain from intervening in the currency market to curb the strength of the yen and protect the country's exporters.
  
A law graduate of the prestigious University of Tokyo, he won a seat in parliament for the first time in 1977 with the Liberal Democratic Party, which is now heading into opposition for only the second time since 1955.
  
Fujii has since held various senior positions within the Democratic Party, which won a landslide election victory on August 30. Most recently he was a senior adviser to the party.

Date created : 2009-09-16

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