The Japanese government on Tuesday named Shigeo Yamada and Kenji Kanasugi as its new ambassadors to the United States and China, respectively, both effective immediately.

The appointment of the envoys to the world's two largest economies comes before next year's presidential election in the United States, Japan's close ally, and as Tokyo is aiming to hold a high-level dialogue with Beijing to ease strained bilateral ties.

Shigeo Yamada (L) and Kenji Kanasugi. (Photo courtesy of the Foreign Ministry)(Kyodo)

Yamada, 59, a former senior deputy foreign minister in charge of political affairs, replaces Koji Tomita, while Kanasugi, 64, who was an envoy to Indonesia, takes over from Hideo Tarumi.

Yamada previously served as minister at the Japanese Embassy in the United States and director general of the Foreign Ministry's Foreign Policy Bureau.

Kanasugi, meanwhile, is the first Japanese envoy to Beijing since 2016 not from the "China School" of diplomats who have undergone Chinese-language training.

Among the other appointments effective Tuesday, Akira Muto, 63, former head of the ministry's Foreign Service Training Institute, was named as the envoy to Russia, and Kazuyuki Yamazaki, 62, who previously headed the Geneva-based mission to the international organizations, becomes ambassador to the United Nations.

It is the first time a new ambassador to Russia has been appointed in almost eight years, and the move takes place amid Moscow's ongoing war against Ukraine. Muto succeeds Toyohisa Kozuki, who took up the position in November 2015.

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