March 10, 2011 09:53
A descendant of Ito Hirobumi, the resident general of Korea during Japanese colonial period, became Tokyo's new foreign minister on Wednesday.
Takeaki Matsumoto (51), a fourth-term Diet member, was nominated six months ago. Matsumoto will attend the G8 foreign ministerial meeting starting Monday in France and the Korea-China-Japan foreign ministerial talks on March 19 in Kyoto.
Matsumoto's mother is Hirobumi's great-granddaughter. Although he is not a direct descendant, Matsumoto's family ties to Hirobumi, considered by Koreans a major symbol of the brutal colonial occupation, could ruffle some feathers. Matsumoto is aware of the fact and has apparently asked whether it would be better for him to admit that he is related to Hirobumi when meeting Korean government officials.
With a law degree from Tokyo University, Matsumoto was first elected to the lower chamber of the Diet in 2000. His appointment is being viewed as atypical due to his short track record as a politician. He is apparently a centrist and opposed to paying homage to Japan's war dead at the militarist Yasukuni Shrine, which houses the remains of convicted war criminals.
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