JAPAN GOVERNMENT – Kishida remodels govt, replaces defense minister

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida remodeled his cabinet Tuesday by replacing the defense minister at a time marked by a drop in public support and his party’s ties to the Unification Church.

Kishida renewed the 19 key positions in his cabinet, in which he replaced Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi with Yasukazu Hamada but kept five positions, including Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno.

Five parliamentarians who have previously held portfolios return to ministerial posts, including Hamada, who held the post between September 2008 and September 2009 under former Prime Minister Taro Aso.