Half-Taiwanese woman to lead Japan’s opposition
TOKYO: Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party yesterday elected a former cabinet minister as its first female leader, following a lastminute hiccup when she was found to hold dual citizenship in violation of Japanese law.
Renho, 48, who goes by her given name only, hopes to repair the party’s image, battered by three years in power that were plagued by infighting, policy flip flops and unkept promises that handed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a landslide election win in 2012.
Born to a Japanese mother and Taiwanese father, the former TV announcer and mother of twins was embarrassed this week when she discovered she held Taiwanese as well as Japanese citizenship.
The law requires those with dual citizenship to choose one by age 22 and when opting for Japan, endeavour to renounce the other nationality. But there is no penalty for not doing so.
Renho had previously said she believed paperwork to renounce her Taiwanese citizenship had been completed when she was a teenager but was recently notified by the de facto Taiwanese embassy in Japan that her Taiwanese citizenship was still valid.
“I would like to apologise for the recent trouble I have caused by my unclear memory and statements,” she said in a speech ahead of the vote.
Renho is one of a handful of women to grab the spotlight lately in Japan’s male-dominated corridors of power, along with defence minister Tomomi Inada and Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike. – Reuters