TOKYO, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose party poll ratings have plunged since coming to power a year ago, reshuffled his Cabinet for the third time.
Noda appointed former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara his new national policy minister and gave the finance portfolio to Koriki Jojima, a former chief of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's parliamentary affairs, Kyodo News reported.
The report said Jojima's connections with opposition lawmakers could help the Noda government get opposition cooperation for passage of a bill to issue debt-covering bonds to finance the budget through next March.
Makiko Tanaka, one of the 10 new ministers appointed, will take over as education minister.
Kyodo said the reshuffle was seen as being designed to gain more public support for Noda's year-old government ahead of the next general election which must be held within a year. Poll ratings have fallen below the so-called "danger zone" of 30 percent, blamed largely on Noda's decision to the 5 percent consumption tax rate by 2015, Kyodo said.
"I decided to carry out a Cabinet reshuffle to deepen cooperation between the government and the ruling party and to strengthen the Cabinet's functions" as Japan faces numerous challenges both at home and abroad, Noda told reporters Monday while announcing his new Cabinet.
Among the challenges are the growing tensions with China arising from the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in East China Sea. Japan also faced a similar island dispute with South Korea.
Kyodo said appointment of Maehara, described as being outspoken, could further irritate China and South Korea.
In the reshuffle, eight ministers retained their posts. Noda became prime minister in September of last year and his prior Cabinet reshuffles were in January and June.
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