Japan MP Kishida appointed foreign minister

TOKYO Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:06am EST

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed lower house lawmaker Fumio Kishida to the key post of foreign minister on Wednesday as the government seeks to balance a bolder diplomatic stance with the need to repair frayed ties with China and South Korea.

Kishida entered politics after working at the now-defunct Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and previously served as a state minister in charge of issues related to Okinawa island - host to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan - in Abe's first cabinet. He is nominal head of an LDP faction previously led by the late Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and has an image as something of a foreign policy dove, political analysts said.

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.

(Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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