Fri, Jan 08, 2010 - Page 5 News List

New Japanese finance chief vows to boost economy

AFP , TOKYO

Japan’s new finance chief pledged yesterday to revive the economy and shake up his powerful ministry, after his predecessor quit due to poor health in a fresh setback for the government.

“I want to help revitalize Japan,” Naoto Kan told reporters outside his home, a day after being named by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to take the helm of the world’s second largest economy, reeling from its worst slump in decades.

Kan, who will have his hands full as both the finance minister and the deputy prime minister, has criticized the finance ministry as the symbol of old-style politics led by unelected but powerful bureaucrats.

“If I make meaningful changes at the ministry, it would be a model for changing Kasumigaseki [the center of Japan’s bureaucracy] as a whole,” he said.

The 63-year-old faces the daunting task of steering Asia’s biggest economy out of its worst post-war downturn, while also keeping the soaring national debt under control in the face of growing global concerns about sovereign debt.

“Unless Kan shows strong leadership ... Japan’s economy will not be able to get out of the trap of deflation and mounting government debt,” JP Morgan economist Masaaki Kanno said.

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