As part of a cabinet reshuffle Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed Taro Kono as Japan’s new defence minister on 11 September, replacing Takeshi Iwaya.
Kono, a long-standing member of Japan’s House of Representatives member for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), had served as foreign minister from August 2017 under the Abe administration.
In that role Kono took a tough stance against South Korea in a row between the two countries over trade disputes and demands for compensation for forced labourers during Japan’s occupation of Korea.
This has led to a deterioration of ties between the two US allies, including Seoul’s decision not to renew the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), a key intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, drawing a swift protest from Tokyo.
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