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Japan's Shinzo Abe's new cabinet features wrestler and TV anchor

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new cabinet features his closest allies. But the PM has also sprung a few surprises, including appointing a former wrestler and a television anchor.

Shinzo Abe sought to refocus his plans on the country's economy and regain his popularity on Wednesday, after Japanese citizens protested his new legislation last month allowing troops to fight abroad for the first time in 70 years.

Nine ministers, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economics Minister Akira Amari retained their portfolios. Abe also decided to keep Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

New faces in the cabinet

Taro Kono, a government critic from Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was appointed minister for administrative reform. Veteran politician Motoo Hayashi was to be the new trade and investment minister.

Hiroshi Hase, a former teacher and professional wrestler, was appointed the new education minister, replacing Hakubun Shimomura, whose decisions forced the scrapping of plans for a new national stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Twitter was abuzz with users sharing posts showing Hase's wrestling pictures.

Television presenter Tamayo Marukawa, 44, would be the new environment minister. However, despite her appointment, the number of women in Abe's cabinet fell from five to three, signaling a setback in Abe's attempt to include more women in his ministerial team.

New policies

Abe also introduced new measures to

increase the participation of women

and other groups in line with his new policy of building what the government calls a "Society in Which All 100 Million People Can be Active."

Katsunobu Kato, a former deputy chief cabinet secretary was appointed the special minister in charge of Abe's goal. Kato would coordinate policies to raise Japan's low fertility rate and reform its social security system.

Kato's tasks were also part of the prime minister's so-called "

Abenomics

" policies, which aimed to improve Japan's fiscal performance. Abe recently said he was aiming to expand the economy by 20 percent to 600 trillion yen ($5 trillion), without setting a timeframe.

mg/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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