Japan's new leader Keizo Obuchi on Wednesday put together a provisional Cabinet that included an elderly finance minister who said he was forced into the job and a collection of mainly former ministers.
The decision by 78-year-old former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa to accept the finance post, even though he says he is too old, saved Obuchi from a serious blow to his fragile credibility."There is nobody but Miyazawa (who can do the job)," declared Obuchi.
In a burst of activity on the eve of a parliamentary session where Obuchi will be formally installed as prime minister, the 61-year-old foreign minister looked to experience in choosing a team to drag the world's second largest economy out of its worst recession since World War II.
After a briefing by ruling Liberal Democratic Party officials, from which the foreign press was excluded, Japanese media reported most of the top names of a Cabinet which will be formally announced after Obuchi is installed.
Obuchi chose his own deputy Masahiko Komura to be foreign minister, deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukushiro Nukaga as Defence Minister and former Education Minister Kaoru Yosano as Trade Minister.
The only surprise in the top names revealed so far was the selection of Taichi Sakaiya, a former trade bureaucrat turned establishment critic and best-selling author, who was slated to become the head of the Economic Planning Agency.
But the most drama came with the choice of Miyazawa, a former finance minister and prime minister with close ties to Washington and hefty clout in party politics.
"I have said repeatedly that I should not take this post, and I could make mistakes of judgment because of my age," Miyazawa told reporters after a meeting with Obuchi at which he accepted the job.
Asked if he felt that he was forced to take the post, Miyazawa said: "Yes, but I would like to take advantage of my experience."
Miyazawa will become Japan's oldest finance minister since World War II. He has held 13 Cabinet posts, including finance minister during the late 1980s heyday of Japan's inflated asset price bubble.
Politicians are still trying to dig the economy out of the hole created when the bubble collapsed. The government has come under increasing pressure from the United States and other countries in recent months to take bold action to revive the economy.