Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Japan's First Female PM?

From IHT / Asahi:
"With growing support from advocates of structural reform, former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike indicated Wednesday she is prepared to challenge Taro Aso in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election.

The first challenge for Koike is to collect the required 20 recommendations from lawmakers to file her candidacy.

Koike, a member of the Machimura faction, currently chairs an intraparty panel that maps out medium- and long-term national strategy under the party's National Vision Project Headquarters.

Koike and other ardent supporters of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's reforms oppose the large financial stimulus measures advocated by Aso and his followers. Instead, Koike has called for further reform efforts to simultaneously pursue economic growth and fiscal reconstruction.

Koike joined the LDP six years ago after stints in the Japan New Party, Shinshinto (New Frontier Party), the Liberal Party, and the New Conservative Party.

She lacks a strong support base in the LDP, so her decision on whether to run in the election may hinge upon whether she can gain recommendations and support from lawmakers outside the Machimura faction, party sources said.

Lawmakers known as "Koizumi's children," who gained their first Diet seats in the 2005 Lower House election under the popular leader, will play a key role in Koike's decision, the sources said."

From the Vancouver Sun:
"Yuriko Koike emerged Wednesday as a possible contender to be Japan's first female prime minister, with heavyweights in the ailing ruling party urging her to challenge conservative favourite Taro Aso.
Koike, 56, a former television anchorwoman who has been a defence minister and environment minister, has stayed coy on whether she will contest a party vote on Sept. 22 to replace outgoing Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

Koike, an expert on the Middle East and fluent in both English and Arabic, is known for her close ties with reformist premier Junichiro Koizumi, who was popular during his 2001-2006 tenure.

She belongs to the LDP's largest faction. Its head, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, hinted he supported a competitive race.

He likened Koike to the failed US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, saying she would energise Japanese women voters.

Japan has one of the developed world's lowest rates of female representation among politicians and corporate executives. Only 89, or 12 per cent, of the 722 members of parliament are women."

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