New Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa pledged Wednesday to do her best to "enhance Japan's presence," with the nation facing challenges including building stable ties with China and tackling military threats posed by neighboring nations.

The veteran ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, who belongs to an intraparty faction led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, became the first female foreign minister in around 20 years in Japan, succeeding Yoshimasa Hayashi in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

New Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (R) attends an attestation ceremony with Emperor Naruhito (L) at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Sept. 13, 2023, after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (C) reshuffled his Cabinet. (Pool photo) (Kyodo)

Kamikawa told reporters in Tokyo that she will make efforts to contribute "not only to Japan's interest but also to the peace of the world" under the administration of Kishida, known as a dovish moderate within the LDP.

She was appointed as foreign minister at a time when Tokyo and Beijing have been at odds over issues such as Japan's release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean that started on Aug. 24.

On the regional front, China has been beefing up its military capabilities and intensifying joint military activities with Russia near Japan amid the war in Ukraine, while North Korea has continued to pursue nuclear and missile programs.

Kamikawa is one of the five female ministers in the reshuffled Cabinet, a record-tying number for the country that has lagged behind other major economies in achieving gender equality in management-level positions.

The 70-year-old House of Representatives member, who previously served three terms as justice minister, said gender equality is important in politics so that "various views" can be reflected, vowing to "live up to expectations."

Kamikawa is likely to visit New York next week to attend the ongoing annual session of the U.N. General Assembly and other meetings on its sidelines, which would mark her debut as foreign minister at a key international forum.

On Wednesday, meanwhile, new Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters that he will carry out his duties "with a sense of trepidation," after North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan earlier in the day.

Kihara is a senior member of a bipartisan group promoting relations with self-ruled democratic Taiwan, regarded by Communist-led China as a renegade province to be unified with the mainland by force, if necessary.

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