Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won reelection to parliament on Wednesday, moving him into position to form a new cabinet that includes a hawkish defense chief.
Abe vowed to press ahead with his controversial economic plan called Abenomics, brushing aside critics who said the record low turnout detracted from his victory, according to Reuters.
He tapped Gen Nakatani for defense minister, the report said, citing Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Nakatani replaces Akinori Eto, who faced questions over his use of political funds.
The rest of the cabinet is unchanged, Suga said.
The new cabinet, Abe’s third since he returned to power late in 2012, was to be sworn in later Wednesday.
Abe’s choice of Nakatani for the defense portfolio comes amid worries about growing threats from nuclear-armed North Korea and China.
Nakatani, 57, a graduate of Japan’s National Defense Academy who briefly served in the armed forces, is a former defence minister who favors Japan having the ability to hit enemy bases pre-emptively in the face of imminent attack.
“If you think what would happen if the United States withdrew, we must consider [acquiring] the ability to respond because we cannot just sit idly and await death,” Nakatani told Reuters earlier this year.
His appointment could rile China, especially given Abe’s stated goal of a stronger security profile for Japan that includes passing a law in 2015 to reinterpret Japan’s pacifist constitution.
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