Taro Kono appointed as Foreign Minister of Japan

Japan Prime Minister Abe reshuffles his cabinet. Taro Kono, President of PNND Japan, is appointed as the Foreign Minister.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet today (August 3) appointing veteran lawmaker Taro Kono as foreign minister and reinstating Itsunori Onodera as defense minister.

Kono, currently the President of the Japan Section of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), has previously served as minister in charge of administrative reform and as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

As a leader of PNND, Taro Kono has given support for a nuclear weapons convention by endorsing ‘A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Our Common Good, and also by endorsing the ‘Parliamentarians Declaration Supporting a Nuclear Weapons Convention. He has also supported the proposal for a North-East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, by endorsing the Joint Statement by Parliamentarians of Japan and the Republic of Korea on Denuclearization of Northeast Asia.

Taro Kono has a long background in Japanese, United States and European politics. 

As a university student in 1982, he went to the United States, where he attended the Suffield Academy and Georgetown University, studying comparative politics. In 1983, he worked for Senator Alan Cranston in his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Senator Cranston is the founder of the Global Security Institute, the US host organisation of PNND.

Kono then worked for Congressman Richard Shelby of Alabama for two years. He also spent time at the Warsaw School of Economics, Poland, during which he spent a night in prison after visiting the home of Solidarity leader (and later Nobel Peace Laureate), Lech Wałęsa.

His father Yohei Kono, also served as Foreign Minister, and as speaker of the House of Representatives, during which time issued a landmark apology from Japan to "comfort women" forced to work in wartime Japanese military brothels.

Yohei Kono was also engaged in Japan's submission to the International Court of Justice on the issue of the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, being the only allied country to argue against nuclear weapons in the court, saying that 'the use of nuclear weapons is clearly contrary to the spirit of humanity that gives international law its philosophical foundation.'

PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware joins PNND Japan leaders Tsuneo Suzuki MP, Taro Kono MP and Hiro Umebayashi (PNND East Asia Coordinator) in presenting the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention to Yohei Kono, Speaker of the Japan House of Representatives, November 2007.

Taro Kono became well-known as a congress-person when he donated part of his liver to his father Yohei Kono who had fallen ill from a hepatitis C infection. Taro Kono has since supported changes to the law regarding organ donation.

Kono was also in the public eye for resigning his position as  Director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives in December 2002 in protest over Japan's support for the Iraq War.

In line with his commitment to peace and diplomacy in North East Asia, Kōno is the only Japanese law-maker who runs a Korean webpage and "actively makes use of intern visas for Koreans." In addition, he has said that he would not visit Yasakuni shrine if he was ever made Prime Minister (official visits by Japanese Prime Ministers have angered China due to the fact that Japanese war criminals are buried in the shrine), although he visits the shrine at present because he has relatives who died in the war.

Included in the many initiatives he has taken to support nuclear non-proliferation and disarmamnet is his opposition to Japanese development aid going to any countries that have failed to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.