Japan's first Socialist prime minister since 1948 named a Cabinet dominated by his old conservative foes Thursday, bringing to power a leadership with widely diverse views of how to run the nation.
The improbable coalition of left-leaning Socialists and staunchly conservative Liberal Democrats leaves both the Japanese public and Japan's allies wondering about Tomiichi Murayama's plans for the future.New Cabinet ministers immediately sought to assuage those concerns, pledging to maintain the policies of the previous government.
"We have to try to maintain continuity in our diplomacy," Liberal Democratic President Yohei Kono said shortly after Murayama appointed him both deputy prime minister and foreign minister.
Murayama, who won a parliamentary ballot Wednesday after the Liberal Democratic Party threw its support behind him, gave his new allies the bulk of seats in his Cabinet, including several of the most important posts.
A Socialist, former Construction Minister Kozo Igarashi, was named chief government spokesman, but the post of deputy prime minister went to LDP president Yohei Kono, who also will serve as foreign minister.
A senior Liberal Democrat also took the important post of minister of trade and international industry, in charge of Japan's touchy trade negotiations with the United States.
By far the largest party, with 206 seats in Parliament's lower house to the Socialists' 74, the Liberal Democrats are bound to exercise heavy sway over Murayama, a 70-year-old former labor activist with scant experience in international affairs, policymaking or pushing legislation through Parliament.