Japan’s new minister of economy, trade and industry, Masayuki Naoshima, is widely known for his close connections with labour unions at Toyota Motor.

Naoshima, a 63-year-old former deputy chief of the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions, will be the contact person in the government for talks with various industries, which are calling for continuation of the economic stimulus implemented by prime minister Taro Aso’s administration, Kyodo News said.

After graduating from Kobe University, Naoshima joined a Toyota sales unit and engaged in labour union activities.

With the support of auto unions, he was elected for the first time to the House of Councillors on the ticket of the now-defunct Democratic Socialist Party in 1992.

Joining the DPJ in 1998, Naoshima has been chairman of the DPJ Policy Research Committee since 2007.

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A native of Osaka Prefecture, he is currently in his third term as an upper house member.

Naoshima will soon be tested on whether he can win approval from industries over new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s plans to seek larger cuts in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, despite strong opposition from business leaders who fear potential heavier costs for themselves, the report noted.