Date of birth: Jan. 24, 1945
Electoral district: Lower House; Shiga No. 1 (eighth term)
Kawabata will also be state minister in charge of affairs pertaining to Okinawa and the Russian-held islands, as well as regional vitalization.
The 66-year-old lawmaker formerly served as education, culture, sports, science and technology minister and chaired the Lower House Steering Committee.
The second son in a family that owns a 300-year-old pharmacy in Shiga Prefecture, Kawabata went to graduate school at Kyoto University and started working at Toray Industries Inc. as a researcher.
He later became involved in union activities and entered the Lower House for the first time in 1986 on the Democratic Socialist Party ticket.
He then switched to Shinshinto (New Frontier Party) and joined the DPJ in 1998.