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Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

Fiscal hawk set for three big hats

Staff writer

Despite being a fiscal hawk, newly appointed Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano appears positive about taking additional measures to juice the economy.

News photo
Multitasking: Kaoru Yosano, who after the exit of Shoichi Nakagawa has become finance minister and financial services minister, in addition to being economic and fiscal policy minister, faces reporters Tuesday. KYODO PHOTO

"Under these economic conditions, my duty is to think about how to confront the economic crisis," Yosano told a news conference Tuesday evening after his predecessor, Shoichi Nakagawa, suddenly resigned.

"We should decide things by comprehensively considering the opinions of all people, in economic, academic and opinion circles," Yosano said.

Citing health problems, Nakagawa resigned after making a sloppy and embarrassing appearance at a Group of Seven press briefing in Rome on Saturday in which he appeared to be drunk.

Yosano said he is confident of his health after surgery for larynx cancer in late 2006. He resigned from the top post of the Liberal Democratic Party's Tax Research Commission for the operation.

"Since my physical strength is fine, please take it easy."

Yosano, a graduate of the University of Tokyo's law school, also has leadership ambitions. Last year, he came in a distant second to Taro Aso in the race to head the ruling LDP.

Since entering the Lower House in 1976, Yosano has held several key posts, ranging from trade and education minister to chief Cabinet secretary and policy chief of the LDP.

The grandson of Tekkan and Akiko Yosano, both renowned poets before the war, Yosano indulges in photography and fishing on his days off.

Although he dropped hints about additional stimulus, Yosano, who is well-versed in economic and financial affairs, also wants to raise the consumption tax to keep the strained social security system well-funded.

He has also been insisting on getting Japan's financial house in order by achieving a primary budget surplus in 2011.

However, in his additional role as head of the Financial Services Agency, Yosano said the biggest challenge in the FSA is to help finance the private sector when exports are plunging and companies of all sizes are suffering from plummeting demand.

With the global crisis deepening, Yosano stressed it was important to coordinate international policy as well.

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The Japan Times

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