Edano as Japan Trade Minister May Take Tough Stance on TEPCO

Yukio Edano, Japan’s new trade minister, may take a tougher stance than his predecessors toward power monopolies including Tokyo Electric Power Co., as the government deals with the Fukushima crisis, analysts said.

Edano set the tone for the ministry that oversees Japan’s atomic power industry by repeating remarks he made earlier this year that Tokyo Electric creditors and shareholders should help pay for the costs associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, such as compensation claims.

“He may take a harder line with the utilities, banks and shareholders than his predecessors,” said Hirofumi Kawachi, an energy analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. in Tokyo.

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Japan names Yukio Edano as new trade minister

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has appointed Yukio Edano as trade minister, reports say, after the abrupt resignation of the previous incumbent.

Mr Edano gained prominence as the chief government spokesman after the earthquake and tsunami in March.

Yoshio Hachiro resigned as trade minister after calling the area around the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant a "town of death".

The trade ministry is also responsible for the energy portfolio.

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Japan Redesigns Nuclear Safety Agency

Japan’s nuclear safety agency will be placed under the control of the country’s Environment Ministry, a top government official announced Monday in a move stemming from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Japanese regulators have been accused of being too cozy with the nuclear industry in the years before the March disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, the worst nuclear accident in a quarter-century. Monday’s decision will take the day-to-day regulation of nuclear plants out from under the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry, which has promoted the use of nuclear energy, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

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Please eat the vegetables, Japan tells radiation-wary nation

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has also been doing his part, urging people to eat food from the disaster-hit areas as a show of support. So has Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, who went to a farmers market and ate a Fukushima strawberry.

“Only safe produce is being distributed,” Edano said. “Please eat it.”

To be sure, no one is pretending that all Fukushima food is absolutely safe; many products from the nuclear zone are indeed contaminated. But the message from the government is that the Japanese should have faith in a monitoring system intended to keep cesium- and iodine-tained products off the shelves.

The officials hope that their promotion of Fukushima food can end the growing confusion about what is safe and what is dangerous.

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Japan says quake impact on economy ‘considerable’

Japan’s government said Sunday it expects a "considerable" economic impact from a huge earthquake and tsunami that plunged the nation into what the prime minister called its worst crisis since the Second World War.

Economists say it is still too early to assess the full cost of the destruction from the record 8.9-magnitude quake and the 10-metre wall of water that laid waste to the northeastern coast and triggered an atomic emergency.

The official death toll so far is 1,200, but is certain to rise substantially, with one hard-hit prefecture saying as many as 10,000 could be dead.

"The quake is expected to have considerable impact on a wide range of our country’s economic activities," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

Leading risk analysis firm AIR Worldwide said the quake alone would exact an economic toll estimated at between $14.5 billion and $34.6 billion, without taking into account the effects of the tsunami.

The Bank of Japan plans to pump "massive" funds into markets on Monday in a bid to help them stabilise following the linked disasters, Dow Jones Newswires said late Sunday.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index is meanwhile expected to tumble, with the index possibly breaking the psychologically important 10,000 level.

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Japan’s New Foreign Minister – Yukio Edano

A high-ranking foreign ministry official will become Japan’s new top diplomat, after his predecessor resigned over the weekend for accepting illegal political donations, the government announced Wednesday.

State Secretary Takeaki Matsumoto will be promoted to foreign minister later Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. He will replace Seiji Maehara, who stepped down Sunday for receiving political donations from a foreigner, which is prohibited in Japan.

The government moved quickly to replace Maehara, who served in the post for just six months. His sudden resignation was a blow to Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s beleaguered government, which is facing public approval ratings below 20 percent.

Kan, who is trying to pass key legislation for his new budget through a gridlocked parliament, had promised to root out "money politics" after a veteran power broker in his party was caught up in a funding scandal.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s government selects new foreign minister.