The 52-year-old House of Representatives member, who joins a Cabinet for the first time, was elected from northeastern Japan's Miyagi Prefecture.
A native of the disaster-ravaged Kesennuma city -- Onodera lost his home and office in the constituency due to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami -- and former official of the Miyagi prefectural government, he has called on the prime minister's office to accelerate reconstruction work in the area.
Onodera entered national politics in 1997 after graduating from Tokyo University of Fisheries and the University of Tokyo's Graduate Schools for Law and Politics.
He is also a graduate of the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, established by the late Panasonic Corp. founder Konosuke Matsushita to train future politicans.
The former associate professor at Tohoku Fukushi University was also a visiting research fellow at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.
His hobbies are skiing and playing tennis.