Finance Ministry picks Kagawa as top bureaucrat

The Finance Ministry on Friday announced a reshuffle of its senior officials, with Budget Bureau Director General Shunsuke Kagawa becoming the top bureaucrat at what is effectively the most powerful government office in Japan.

Kagawa, 57, replaced Yasushi Kinoshita as administrative vice minister. Kinoshita, 57, played a key role in implementing the 3-percentage-point consumption tax increase to 8 percent on April 1 -- the first hike of the tax in 17 years.

Kazuho Tanaka, 58, succeeded Kagawa as Budget Bureau chief, while former Deputy Vice Minister Shinichi Sato, 57, took up Tanaka's previous post of leading the Tax Bureau.

Tanaka is the first ministry official in the postwar period to become head of the Budget Bureau immediately after serving as chief of the Tax Bureau, Finance Minister Taro Aso said at a press conference.

The new appointments, effective Friday, represent the "right persons in the right places" before the government decides by the end of this year on whether to carry out the second round of the consumption tax increase to 10 percent in October 2015 as scheduled, Aso said.

In other personnel changes, Tatsuo Yamasaki, 56, who headed the International Bureau, was tapped as vice finance minister for international affairs, succeeding Mitsuhiro Furusawa, 58.

Masatsugu Asakawa, 56, a former deputy vice minister for policy planning and co-ordination, was named chief of the International Bureau.

Nobumitsu Hayashi, 57, director general of the Financial Bureau, was appointed chief of the National Tax Agency, in place of Mitsutaka Inagaki, 56.