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Japan names Okano as Foreign Ministry top bureaucrat, succeeding Mori

The Japanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday named Masataka Okano, a deputy head of the National Security Secretariat, as its new top bureaucrat.

The appointment of Okano, 59, as vice foreign minister was among a set of key personnel changes at the ministry endorsed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet the same day, effective on Thursday.

Okano, who also serves as assistant chief Cabinet secretary in charge of foreign policy, succeeds Takeo Mori, 62, who is retiring after holding the post since June 2021.

Supplied photo shows Masataka Okano. (Kyodo)

A University of Tokyo graduate, Okano entered the ministry in 1987, and served as director general of the ministry’s International Legal Affairs Bureau and director general of its Foreign Policy Bureau before taking up the current positions in September 2022.

Among the other appointments, Takehiro Funakoshi, 58, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, was tapped as senior deputy minister for foreign affairs in charge of political affairs, succeeding Shigeo Yamada, 59.

The government is considering naming Yamada as Japan’s next ambassador to the United States to replace Koji Tomita, according to government sources.

Hiroyuki Namazu, 57, director general of the Economic Affairs Bureau, replaces Funakoshi, while Yutaka Arima, 55, director general of the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department, was appointed as director general of the North American Affairs Bureau, replacing Yasuhiro Kobe, 55.

Kobe succeeds Keiichi Ichikawa, 57, as the head of the Foreign Policy Bureau, and Ichikawa takes over Okano’s posts.

The reshuffling of senior Foreign Ministry officials came after Kishida’s government hosted a Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May.


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