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Japanese PM using "female ninjas"

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by The Kid, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. The Kid

    The Kid TRIBE Member

    Koizumi counting on his 'female ninja'
    By Maya Kaneko

    In a country that has the smallest number of female lower house members among developed nations, there has been debate about whether Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's tactic of fielding numerous career women in the Sept 11 general election should be regarded as a welcome step, no matter how opportunistic it may seem.

    The premier, who dissolved the House of Representatives on Aug 8 after his postal reform bills were blocked by rebels in his own ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has picked prominent female figures to "kill" these rebels in single-seat constituencies. They are being dubbed "assassins" or "female ninja" by the Japanese media.

    The ploy has stirred a widespread controversy even among feminists. Some accuse Koizumi of exploiting women in order to soften the negative image of such candidates selected to engage the rebels, while others commend the tactic as a kind of affirmative action.

    Opposition Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima shouted in a speech, "Don't use women!" but Osaka Gov Fusae Ota welcomed the move at a press conference, saying "It is really good to have more women at the center of politics."

    Some male rivals have openly showed their jealousy of these female candidates, after Koizumi revealed his policy of placing women in the top slot of the LDP's regional proportional representation lists to provide a safety net for them.

    In Japan's lower house electoral system, candidates who lose in single-seat constituencies can still gain proportional representation seats if they are defeated by only a slim margin.

    Notable candidates termed "Madonnas of reform" by Koizumi include Environment Minister Yuriko Koike, 53, former Finance Ministry bureaucrat Satsuki Katayama, 46, Makiko Fujino, 55, a "charismatic" housewife rather like Martha Stewart in the United States, former disarmament envoy Kuniko Inoguchi, 53, and Yukari Sato, 44, a Credit Suisse First Boston economist.

    Koike, the first to be announced by Koizumi, is on a mission to defeat Koki Kobayashi, 61, who left the LDP after voting against Koizumi's postal privatization bills to form the New Party Nippon, in the Tokyo No. 10 constituency. The anchorwoman-turned-minister has changed her election base from western Japan to become a "parachute candidate."

    "Mr Koizumi dotes on women. Why does he put women in the top proportional representation slot? Because nobody can complain about it," Kobayashi told Kyodo News. Apparently upset by Koizumi's tactics, Kobayashi even said the premier's election ploy may have "adverse effects on the education" of children.

    Muneaki Samejima, 61, a candidate from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in the Tokyo constituency, was also perplexed by the sudden emergence of Koike in the race, saying, "An assassin in a miniskirt has dropped into our constituency."

    The environment minister appeared on a poster with a miniskirt to promote the government's "Cool Biz" casual office dress code to fight global warming this summer.

    "The belief that voters will swoon at a famous, beautiful woman represents the views of men from the older generation," Samejima said. He was especially concerned that female voters in their 50s, the same age group as Koike's, might back her as they watch TV shows about these candidates every day.

    Toshie Yamamoto, 56, running on the ticket of the Japanese Communist Party in the constituency, shared the same concern. "How dare Mr Koizumi do such a thing? Female voters could swing to Ms Koike as she is well-known," Yamamoto said.

    Koike reportedly said she believes she should make the most of this chance, even though some critics may say these "assassin" candidates are abusing their femaleness.

    In the Shizuoka No. 7 district, Katayama, a former beauty queen at the prestigious University of Tokyo and known for her graceful curly hair, is tasked with ousting Minoru Kiuchi, 40, an LDP rebel.

    Wearing a red suit, a smiling Katayama waved to some 7,000 people gathered in front of JR Hamamatsu Station in Shizuoka Prefecture at a recent weekend, flanked by Koizumi. "It is good to see women advancing into society. In Japanese politics, female members only account for less than 10%," Koizumi stressed.

    Katayama, who worked at the finance ministry for 23 years, also told reporters about the election tactics, "Working in a male-dominated society for such a long time, I realized this is the only way to immediately raise the female representation ratio in Japanese politics."

    As of June, Japan ranked 101st among 186 countries in the ranking of women in lower or single house parliaments compiled by the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union. With women accounting for only 7.1% of all members, Japan's situation is worse than in Arab states, where women occupy 8.8% of lower house parliament seats on average.

    Voters in the Tokyo and Shizuoka constituencies have mixed views. Ichiro Shimaoka, 67, from Tokyo's Toshima Ward was critical of the ploy, saying those who support Koike just because she is a woman are "stupid." His daughter Mami, 42, said that women are "treated lightly" in Japanese politics and that Koizumi is trying to "fool" the electorate.

    Takayo Ito, a 35-year-old housewife from Hamamatsu said she also felt "disgusted" initially by Koizumi's use of women, but that she changed her mind after hearing Katayama's speech. "She was not just a nominal billboard candidate, but an able person with the potential to become a politician. I hope she can be elected to make Japan a better place," Ito said.

    Former education minister Ryoko Akamatsu, who heads the Women in New World, International Network (WIN WIN), a group financially supporting newcomer female candidates in elections regardless of parties, praised the LDP for actively fielding women. "It's unprecedented and could be a breakthrough," she said.

    The LDP, which occupied 249 lower house seats before the dissolution, had only nine female members. The DPJ had 14 women in the 480-seat chamber out of its total of 175 seats.

    Political analyst Minoru Morita lamented Koizumi's methods, saying, "Those assassins could damage their careers after being politically used."

    But Akamatsu countered that view, saying, "They should not be to blame because politics always uses dirty ploys. Those women must have made a strategic decision to run in the race."

    (2005 Kyodo News. All rights reserved. No reproduction or republication without written permission.)

    August 29, 2005
  2. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    females in mysterious form fitting clothing are A OK by me :D

  3. Jeremy Jive

    Jeremy Jive TRIBE Member

    I want to see them flip out and kill things.
  4. Temper Tantrum

    Temper Tantrum TRIBE Member

  5. Rataxès

    Rataxès TRIBE Member

  6. Jeremy Jive

    Jeremy Jive TRIBE Member

    Every kind of awesome.
  7. Aerius Zension

    Aerius Zension TRIBE Member

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