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Obuchi being touted as Japan's first female PM

Discussion in 'China & Far East' started by Aepsilons, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Aepsilons

    Aepsilons PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    f9cb74cb302c81de73e3c176b30ac2c1.jpg

    TOKYO —

    With a telegenic presence, powerful ruling party mentors and a talent for avoiding making political enemies, Japan’s new trade and industry minister, Yuko Obuchi, may have what it takes to become the country’s first female prime minister.

    In Tokyo’s male-dominated corridors of power, where seniority still matters, Obuchi’s gender and youth would in the past have made her a long-shot - at best - to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    But a shortage of popular male rivals and lingering doubts over the success of “Abenomics” mean the 40-year-old daughter of a prime minister is increasingly seen as a contender when her Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) goes shopping for a new leader.

    For now, Abe’s support rates are respectable at more than 50%, but his popularity depends mostly on whether he can keep promises to fix Japan’s long-stagnant economy.

    Even if Abe’s direct successor turns out to be a man, Obuchi dubbed the “next premier but one” by some Japanese media - is clearly on a career path that could take her to the top job.

    “Her faction wants to push her forward. They want to nurture her as a future leader,” said Nihon University professor Tomoaki Iwai. “Trade and industry minister is an important post, so you could say she has climbed a step up the ladder toward premier.”

    One of the first tests of Obuchi’s skills as minister is the tricky task of selling an unpopular policy of restarting nuclear reactors to a public wary about safety after the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

    Abe appears to be hoping that the popular Obuchi’s soft-spoken ways and status as the mother of two boys, aged seven and four, will soften the blow for the many Japanese voters, women especially, who oppose restarts.

    “As soon as I get home, I become a housewife so things like shopping, childcare, going to the doctor - I realise there are many things needed for daily life,” Obuchi, tall and slim in a black pants suit with her short hair swept to the side, told women last week in the village of Kawauchi, about 20 km from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

    Many villagers fled after Fukushima meltdowns sent radiation spewing, and still worry about going back to deserted neighborhoods despite the lifting of evacuation orders.

    It was her father Keizo’s sudden death from a stroke suffered while in office in 2000 that persuaded Obuchi to run for parliament at the age of 26.

    Politics, like small businesses, is often a family affair in Japan, where there is a tradition of offspring succeeding a parent in elected office.

    “I grew up watching my father and the path that he followed as a politician, and somehow I wanted to continue that,” Obuchi said in a TV interview just days before she was appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in early September.

    Those who know Obuchi agree she entered politics mainly to take over the legacy of her father Keizo rather than to pursue a specific policy agenda. “I think if her father had been a fishmonger or a shop owner, she would have carried on his work,” said a Japanese journalist who has followed Obuchi’s career.

    The youngest of three siblings, Obuchi had previously worked at a TV broadcaster and as her father’s private aide.

    One of a record-tying five women appointed by Abe in his rejigged cabinet, Obuchi stands out as a moderate compared with other ministers who mostly share Abe’s hawkish agenda.

    She hails from an LDP faction that favors warm ties with China and South Korea, and is one of only four ministers in the 18-member cabinet not associated with nationalist lobby group Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), political analysts noted.

    She does belong to a separate group of MPs that advocates visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, but she typically sends a staffer rather than go in person, an aide said.

    When Abe outraged Beijing and Seoul by visiting Yasukuni in December, Obuchi was in China with a group of lawmakers, whose appointments were abruptly cancelled.

    Obuchi was also the youngest post-war cabinet minister when she took the portfolio for gender equality in 2008, at the age of 34, and the next year became the first to become pregnant in office. She has also served as deputy finance minister.

    A quick study with a sharp mind and a talented speaker, Obuchi has few signature policies other than urging good ties in Asia and steps to make it easier for women to work and raise kids. Like her father, who parlayed an image as a likeable “Everyman” into popularity, Obuchi seems to have few political enemies - a factor that may be key to her career success.

    “She has potential but it is still only potential,” Mieko Nakabayashi, a former lawmaker from the rival Democratic Party and a professor at Waseda University.

    “She can be likeable, she doesn’t stick out, she doesn’t carry any strong beliefs. Her father was the same way. It’s not a very global type of women’s leadership ... but it is very much the LDP-style.”


    Obuchi being touted as Japan's first female PM ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion
     
  2. LeveragedBuyout

    LeveragedBuyout PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    The next logical step is one of the majors (either Finance or Foreign Affairs). Her appointment to either of those positions will indicate that she's wrapped up the PM position behind the scenes.
     
  3. LeveragedBuyout

    LeveragedBuyout PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Oh well.

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    BBC News - Japanese ministers Yuko Obuchi and Midori Matsushima quit

    [​IMG]ASIA




    20 October 2014 Last updated at 01:59 ET
    Japanese ministers Yuko Obuchi and Midori Matsushima quit

    [​IMG]

    Japan's Justice Minister Midori Matsushima has resigned, hours after the resignation of Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi.

    Ms Matsushima had been accused by the opposition of violating election laws.

    Ms Obuchi is alleged to have misused funds from her political support groups and other donations.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he took responsibility having appointed both women, and that they would be replaced within a day.

    Correspondents say the resignations are a major setback to Mr Abe, who wants to bring more women into the top levels of government.

    Ms Obuchi, 40, was one of five women appointed by Mr Abe in his cabinet reshuffle last month and was tipped by some as a future prime minister.

    But allegations emerged last week that her staff had misused thousands of dollars of campaign funds.

    Ms Obuchi has not acknowledged personal wrongdoing, but at a televised press conference on Monday, she said she was resigning because "we cannot let economic policy and energy policy stagnate... because of my problems".

    "I take seriously the impact I have caused," she said. She also apologised for being unable to contribute to key goals set by Mr Abe, including economic recovery and "a society where women shine".

    Criminal complaint
    Hours later Mr Abe announced that Ms Matsushima, 58, had also resigned.

    She had distributed paper fans carrying her image and policies at a festival in her constituency, said NHK.

    [​IMG]
    Yuko Obuchi bowed in apology at a press conference on Monday announcing her resignation

    [​IMG]
    Ms Matsushima (C) met with Mr Abe at his official residence shortly before news of her resignation broke

    The opposition Democratic Party filed a criminal complaint against her on Friday, and demanded her resignation, saying this was an apparent violation of election law and rules on usage of political funds.

    The BBC's Japan correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says that this is not the end of Mr Abe's problems concerning his new female ministers.

    Eriko Yamatani, minister in charge of the North Korean abduction issue, was shown in photographs with members of an ultra-nationalist group accused of hate speech against Japan's ethnic Korean community.

    Mr Abe's first term as prime minister in 2006-2007 saw a string of scandals amongst his ministers, eventually leading to his own resignation for health reasons after just one year in office.
     
  4. Lure

    Lure FULL MEMBER

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    Oct 7th : She was rumoured to become the next PM of Japan.
    Oct 20th : She resigned because of allegations stating misuse of political support funds.

    Political environment is always volatile.
     
  5. LeveragedBuyout

    LeveragedBuyout PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Japanese corruption is decidedly small-time, so insignificant that it's hard for me to believe that these allegations are real. It looks like Japan needs to learn from the US and China how the big boys play the game.

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    Explainer: What Are the Accusations Against Obuchi? - Japan Real Time - WSJ

    • [​IMG]
    • October 20, 2014, 2:22 PM JST
    Explainer: What Are the Accusations Against Obuchi?
    ByJun Hongo
    [​IMG]
    Minister Yuko Obuchi leaves a news conference in Tokyo on Monday.
    Bloomberg News
    Minister of economy, trade and industry Yuko Obuchi stepped down from her position Monday. What exactly is she accused of doing wrong?

    The allegations fall broadly into two categories. The first involves entertainment for her supporters.

    According to Ms. Obuchi’s statements at a news conference Monday, a political group she controls began in 2007 to organize annual trips to Tokyo for people in Gunma prefecture, where her constituency is. She said about 2,000 people each year attended the event, which included visiting the Meijiza theater for a show.

    Ms. Obuchi said that she thought participants paid a fee of about ¥12,000 ($112) each to take part. But financial records show that her political group received far less money than the approximately ¥24 million it should have received if 2,000 people were paying.

    In 2010 and 2011, the group reported income of less than ¥4 million for the trip, she said. In 2012, the records didn’t show payments to Meijiza for the entertainment or income from supporters who attended, although the tour took place as usual, Ms. Obuchi said.

    Ms. Obuchi acknowledged that if her political group had paid all or part of the supporters’ travel and entertainment costs, that would be considered a donation by her to the supporters. Japanese election law prohibits payments by lawmakers to their constituents.

    However, she also said that at the time, she believed participants in the Tokyo trip were paying their own way. She said she would ask for third-party specialists to investigate what happened.

    “There are too many things that I don’t understand regarding the situation,” Ms. Obuchi said.

    The second set of allegations involves spending from Ms. Obuchi’s political funds on food and clothing, and on this subject she offered a more robust defense.

    Financial records submitted by one of Ms. Obuchi’s political groups for 2012 show the group paid ¥600,000 ($5,600) to a local farmer for Shimonita leeks, a specialty of farmers in her constituency. There were also records of the group buying handkerchiefs and neckties designed by Ms. Obuchi’s sister.

    Ms. Obuchi on Monday denied that the spending was used to benefit constituents or family members. She said she gave the leeks as thanks to those who had supported her political activities. Those recipients weren’t constituents, she said.

    “I have kept a proper distinction between my public and private affairs,” Ms. Obuchi said.
     
  6. terranMarine

    terranMarine BANNED

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    Culturally speaking Japan has always been discriminatory towards women. Even today's modern society in Japan this news hardly comes as a surprise. Some things probably never change in the land of the setting sun :lol:
     
  7. Aepsilons

    Aepsilons PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    In Japan, allegation of corruption in serious for politicians; and shameful to oneself and the constituents. Her resignation comes as a curve ball. I am very saddened to hear this.
     
  8. Tractor

    Tractor SENIOR MEMBER

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    Not a matter,wish Norika Fujiwara to be the prime minister.
     
  9. Aepsilons

    Aepsilons PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    My best bet will be: Tanigaki Sadakazu, currently serving as Secretary General of LDP

    [​IMG]
     
  10. William Hung

    William Hung SENIOR MEMBER

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    Obuchi-san, GANBATTE!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  11. +4vsgorillas-Apebane

    +4vsgorillas-Apebane SENIOR MEMBER

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    $6000 on leeks!

    Delicious!
     
  12. TheMatador

    TheMatador BANNED

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    America strikes back at Obuchi. CIA is still the puppetmaster. I think the next PM will be another far right wing extremist.
     
  13. MarkovChain

    MarkovChain FULL MEMBER

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    Tell me more!! Tell me more!!
     
  14. kawaraj

    kawaraj SENIOR MEMBER

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    This is called faction rivalry. Misuse of "political fund", how is that cheesy?