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Japan initiates new finance minister

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Bill Radke: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just finished day one of her trip to Japan, and what a day. Japan just got a new finance minister. The old one resigned after a weekend press conference where he was, let’s say, confused. From Shanghai, Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.


Scott Tong: Word problem: If a finance minister admits to drinking three or four gin and tonics on a plane, plus a little wine at lunch the next day, and then he slurs his way through a press conference with six other ministers, how much longer does he keep his job?

Answer: three days. Shoichi Nakagawa quit today after his embarrassing performance in Rome Saturday. He blamed jetlag and cold medicine.

Jeff Kingston teaches at Temple University in Tokyo:

Jeff Kingston: Some people probably think that well, the Japanese economy has been hammered so badly that maybe it’s understandable. But you’d like to think that the second-largest economy is in safe hands.

It’s the latest setback for Prime Minister Taro Aso. Japan’s economy is shrinking quickly ’cause it’s too export dependent.

And all this raises more questions about Aso’s leadership. Secretary of State Clinton did meet with him today, but just in case things change, she spoke with the opposition, too.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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