Japan's Abe to pick MP Kishida as foreign minister: Kyodo

TOKYO Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:09pm EST

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Incoming Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will appoint lower house lawmaker Fumio Kishida to the key post of foreign minister, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday, as the government seeks to balance a bolder diplomatic stance with the need to repair frayed ties with China and South Korea.

The hawkish Abe must balance the need to stabilize relations with key trade partner Beijing and U.S. ally Seoul - which have been strained by rows over territory and wartime history - while bolstering Tokyo's alliance with Washington and trying to loosen the limits of the pacifist constitution on the military.

Kishida, 55, entered politics after working at the now-defunct Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and previously served as a state minister in charge of Okinawa-related issues in Abe's first 2006-2007 cabinet. Previous media reports had said Abe might tap former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi for the post.

Abe will formally take office on Wednesday and is expected to quickly form his new cabinet following his Liberal Democratic Party's December 16 landslide election win.

(Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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