Govt. names ex-opposition lawmaker as Prime Minister Kishida's advisor

Japan's government has named a former opposition lawmaker as a special advisor to Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

The decision made on Friday is seen by some as an attempt to reach out to the Democratic Party for the People.

Yata Wakako will advise Kishida on wage increases and employment.

The former employee of electronics maker Panasonic was elected to the Upper House in 2016 with backing from the Japanese Electrical and Information Union.

She served as the DPP's deputy leader, but failed to win reelection last year. She does not currently hold a party position.

Kishida is believed to have chosen Yata to explore the possibility of working with the DPP, whose policies have much in common with those of the governing coalition.

At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu expressed hope that Yata will use her post to advance the Cabinet's key policies of labor market reform and structural wage hikes.

Reporters cited a view among governing and opposition parties that her appointment is a stepping stone for the DPP to join the ruling coalition.

Matsuno replied that Kishida has said he needs to focus on achieving success with the coalition between the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, and that there's nothing to add.

The government also decided to appoint former state minister for education Ueno Michiko as Kishida's special advisor for women's empowerment.

Also on Friday, following Kishida's recent Cabinet reshuffle, the government named 26 state ministers and 28 parliamentary vice-ministers. None of them are women, in sharp contrast to the new Cabinet's record-tying five female ministers.