Japan PM to pick senior lawmaker Jojima as finance minister: media

TOKYO Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:00pm EDT

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks at a news conference in New York September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks at a news conference in New York September 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Burton

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda plans to name senior lawmaker Koriki Jojima as the country's new finance minister in a cabinet shake-up due later on Monday, Japanese media reported.

Jojima, who has served as parliamentary affairs chief in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), would replace Jun Azumi and take charge of the world's third largest economy as it teeters on the brink of recession in the face of a global slowdown and strong yen.

The cabinet reshuffle, a last-ditch effort to boost the DPJ's chances in an upcoming general election, would be the third since Noda took office in September 2011, becoming the DPJ's third prime minister in as many years.

Opinion polls show the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), ousted in 2009 after more than 50 years of almost non-stop rule, will likely come first in the election expected within months, meaning Jojima's time in office could be short.

Jojima would likely stick to a fiscal reform drive pursued by fiscal hawk Noda, as he has worked closely with the premier in designing Noda's signature plan to double the sales tax to 10 percent by October 2015.

But little is known about Jojima's view on monetary and currency policies.

Jojima would also likely aim to discuss the strength of the yen at a meeting of Group of Seven finance chiefs and separate meetings for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, to be held in Tokyo next week.

He would also be tasked with tackling Japan's snowballing debt, already twice the size of its annual economic output, the worst among industrialized countries.

Noda, re-elected last month as head of the DPJ and government, has promised to call general elections "soon" in return for backing on his contentious sales tax plan.

But the 55-year-old former finance minister remains coy on the timing of the poll.

(Editing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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