Japan's PM 'picks Yoshihiko Noda as finance minister'

Yoshihiko Noda (photo from Democratic Party of Japan website)
Image caption Yoshihiko Noda has a reputation as a fiscal hawk

Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan has selected Yoshihiko Noda to be the country's next finance minister, Kyodo news agency reports.

Mr Noda had been serving as a deputy finance minister under Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned as prime minister in a dispute over a US military base.

Mr Kan promised a "new start" after his Democratic Party (DPJ) chose him on Friday.

He is Japan's fifth prime minister in three years.

Mr Kan is expected to favour higher taxes and spending cuts to tackle Japan's national debt, the biggest in the industrial world.

Mr Noda, 52, also supports fiscal discipline.

Mr Kan plans to replace eight members of the cabinet in total, but to keep on Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, Kyodo reported.

Satoshi Arai, seen as close to the new prime minister, was chosen as national strategy minister, the agency said.

Kyodo also published an opinion poll suggesting that support for the DPJ had risen to just over 36% - up from 15.6% in May - following Mr Kan's appointment.

The DPJ landslide election victory last year ended half a century of conservative rule in Japan.

The party has been swift to elect a new leader in preparation for upper house elections in July.

The new cabinet is expected to be officially announced on Tuesday.

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