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Japan: Profile of Hatoyama Cabinet
Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun
Source Date: Friday, September 18, 2009
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Institution and HR Management, Internet Governance
Country: Japan
Created: Sep 20, 2009


Naoto Kan

After working as a patent attorney and citizens movement activist, Kan, 62, was elected to the Diet in 1980.

As health and welfare minister in the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Kan labored to uncover the truth behind the tragedy caused by HIV-tainted blood supplies. He leapt to national fame by dragging previously concealed documents out from under the rug.

During this period, Kan earned the nickname "Ira-Kan" (Impatient Kan) for his short temper. However, people close to him say he has mellowed in recent years.

When Kan was president of the Democratic Party of Japan, he played a leading role in merging the DPJ with the Liberal Party.

Kan often plays go with DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa.

The biggest issue Kan now faces is how to build a new relationship between politicians and bureaucrats without creating significant disorder.




Kazuhiro Haraguchi

Haraguchi, 50, has handled general issues for the Democratic Party of Japan and dealt with subjects related to postal privatization reform in the party's shadow cabinet. He is well versed in the areas of decentralization and information communication.

Haraguchi has advocated the transfer of some tax resources and administrative authority to local governments.

He often appears on TV programs, in which he has repeatedly shown himself to be a sharp-tongued debater.

He has been elected to five consecutive terms in the House of Representatives.

However, he lost in Saga Constituency No. 1 twice, in 2000 and 2005, and was consequently elected in the proportional representation section.

Haraguchi won in the single-seat constituency in 1996, 2003 and 2009.

He studied politics at the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management.




Keiko Chiba

Since she was first elected to the House of Councillors in 1986, Chiba, 61, a former lawyer, has been striving to settle the dispute over a proposal to grant permanent foreign residents suffrage in local elections.

She is one of a handful of upper house members from the Democratic Party of Japan and other parties who made a counterproposal to the revision bill of the Organ Transplant Law, calling for the establishment of a research committee to consider the pros and cons of each case of possible organ donations by those under 15 and standards in diagnosing brain death for such people.

Several of her colleagues commented on her balanced, neutral character as being neither good nor bad.

Observers say one challenge she faces is eliminating her low-key image and making her presence felt in the Cabinet.

Chiba, born in Yokohama, graduated from Chuo University's Faculty of Law in 1971 and joined the Yokohama Bar Association in 1982. She has been a fan of astronomy since childhood.

(DPJ, upper house)



Katsuya Okada

Okada, 56, is proud of having been in the opposition camp since leaving the Liberal Democratic Party in 1993, determined from that time onward to remove the party from power and establish a new government.

Often called a fundamentalist for his adherence to his own opinions, he never compromises, even over little details. In this respect, some younger Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers have distanced themselves from him.

Okada travels to the United States, China and South Korea almost every year, keeping close ties with the leaders of these countries and pro-Japan figures.

He graduated from Tokyo University's Faculty of Law in 1976 and joined the then International Trade and Industry Ministry that year. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 on an LDP ticket.

Okada became DPJ president in 2004, but stepped down in 2005 after the party's loss to the LDP under then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.




Hirohisa Fujii

Fujii, 77, successfully ran in the August general election after he was talked out of retiring from politics by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Fujii is a great admirer of Hatoyama's father, Iichiro Hatoyama, who served as foreign minister. Both Fujii and the elder Hatoyama were Finance Ministry officials before entering politics and Fujii has long been a trusted friend of the Hatoyama family.

Fujii has also been a close associate of DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa. DPJ members expect Fujii to serve as a liaison between the Hatoyama Cabinet and the DPJ's top cadre led by Ozawa.

He has always said, "Bureaucrats are there to be used [by politicians to accomplish their own purposes]." However, some officials at other ministries view Fujii with suspicion, fearing he may actually be easily swayed by Finance Ministry bureaucrats.

Fujii graduated from Tokyo University's Faculty of Law in 1955 and joined the Finance Ministry the same year. He was first elected to the House of Councillors in 1977.




Tatsuo Kawabata

Kawabata, 64, is an old hand at negotiating with other parties over Diet proceedings. He has served in such positions as chairman of the Democratic Party of Japan's Diet Affairs Committee and director of the House of Representatives Rules and Administration Committee.

He is known as a steady worker, but whether he can handle education and science-related tasks remains unknown.

Kawabata entered politics after serving as a union official at Toray Industries Inc., where he worked on the research and development of water-treatment systems designed to change seawater to fresh water.

He is a central figure in the group of DPJ members who belonged to the now defunct Democratic Socialist Party.

Kawabata lost in a single-seat constituency in the 2005 lower house election during his stint as secretary general of the DPJ.

He likes to relax by reading while on Shinkansen trips.




Akira Nagatsuma

Nagatsuma, 49, made a name for himself as "Mr. Nenkin" (Mr. Pension) because of his successful efforts to highlight the massive number of pension records whose holders remain unknown.

Using his investigative skills honed as a reporter for a business magazine, Nagatsuma is known for his meticulous analysis of information concerning the issues he explores. Among Democratic Party of Japan members, he has a reputation for being the most capable in investigating wasteful government spending.

Nagatsuma is often chidingly labeled as one of the most disliked lawmakers by bureaucrats in the Kasumigaseki government office quarter due to his never-ceasing demands for detailed information from bureaucrats.

After assuming the post, however, attention is now focused on whether he will be able to tactfully have bureaucrats work for him.

Nagatsuma is a graduate of Keio University and represents Tokyo Constituency No. 7.




Hirotaka Akamatsu

After serving as a prefectural assembly member, Akamatsu, 61, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 and was promoted to secretary general of the then Japan Socialist Party at the relatively young age of 44.

Akamatsu became a founding member of the Democratic Party of Japan in 1996.

Since then, Akamatsu has been highly evaluated for his reliable and steady work, which has helped him gain important posts in the party, including party Diet Affairs Committee chairman.

However, the number of DPJ lawmakers who originally belonged to the JSP has been decreasing and Akamatsu has found the number of party members who support him on the decline.

His father, Isamu, who died in 1982, was a former JSP lower house member.

Akamatsu was elected from Aichi Constituency No. 5.

He is a graduate of Waseda University.




Masayuki Naoshima

Naoshima, 63, became a House of Councillors member following a career that saw him move from being an employee at Toyota Motor Sales Co. to an executive of the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers' Unions. During his days at the labor union, he was involved in policymaking.

Naoshima has been through the school of hard knocks--his father died when he was young and he worked to put himself through a part-time high school.

When current Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa was head of the party, he made use of Naoshima's policy expertise and appointed him chairman of the party's Policy Research Committee--a post from which he drew up a variety of bills, including one regarding child allowances.

He also was appointed a chief cabinet secretary of the DPJ's shadow cabinet under Hatoyama's leadership.

He is viewed by some as lacking charm and is noted for occasionally floundering in debates.

(DPJ, upper house)



Seiji Maehara

Maehara, 47, is well-versed in diplomatic and national security policy, and played an important role in reaching a consensus with previous ruling parties regarding amendments to bills covering military emergencies.

In 2005, Maehara was elected president of the Democratic Party of Japan at the age of 43.

However, he was forced to resign to take responsibility for the confusion arising from a scandal over a fake e-mail involving a DPJ member.

Maehara also was severely criticized for his inability to lead the DPJ.

After studying under the late Kyoto University Prof. Masataka Kosaka, an international relations scholar, Maehara graduated from the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management.

He was elected to the Diet after serving as a member of the Kyoto Prefectural Assembly.

He loves taking photographs of steam locomotives.




Sakihito Ozawa

Ozawa, 55, is one of the lawmakers closest to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He delivered a speech in support of Hatoyama at the Democratic Party of Japan's presidential election in May.

Calling himself a "policymaking engineer," Ozawa has amassed a good record in devising policies related to economic and environmental issues.

While working at the former Bank of Tokyo, he was involved in foreign exchange business.

Before joining the DPJ, he was a member of Japan New Party and New Party Sakigake (Pioneers).

When the provisional tax rate on gasoline expired and gas prices temporarily went down last spring--due to opposition to legislative changes from the DPJ and other parties in the opposition-controlled House of Councillors--Ozawa played a central role in the party's street rallies to win public support for the DPJ's stance.

Ozawa has a cheerful personality and is a man of action. But some consider him an opportunist.




Toshimi Kitazawa

Kitazawa, 71, made the transition from company employee to Nagano prefectural assembly member when his father, who was an assembly member, suddenly died.

Kitazawa was first elected to the Diet in the 1992 House of Councillors election.

Known for being close to former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, a Democratic Party of Japan veteran who also hails from Nagano Prefecture, Kitazawa left the LDP together with Hata in 1993, and has followed Hata's path ever since.

Kitazawa has said he believes in tackling a difficult task head-on rather than just talking about it. When he served as a chairman of the upper house's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, he delayed discussions on an economic partnership agreement despite his party's plan to make headway on it. This incident along with others have helped give him a reputation for inflexibility.

He loves pottery, but has lamented the lack of time he has recently had to enjoy it.

(DPJ, upper house)



Hirofumi Hirano

Hirano, 60, is one of the three closest aides to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

He has a reputation for excellent crisis-management skills, as demonstrated in how he handled the fake e-mail scandal that involved a junior Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker.

Hirano worked at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and served as a senior member of the company's labor union before he made his successful run from Osaka Constituency No. 11 as an independent in the 1996 House of Representatives election. He later joined the DPJ.

He served as deputy chairman of the DPJ's Diet Affairs Committee and its deputy secretary general.

Known for his soft-spoken demeanor, he has earned the trust of many in the DPJ.

However, some are worried about whether he can exercise leadership over bureaucrats as he is regarded as best in the role as senior aide to a top leader.




Hiroshi Nakai

Nakai, 67, is a second-generation lawmaker who took over the House of Representatives seat held by his father, Tokujiro, in Mie Prefecture.

This is the second time Nakai has been a cabinet member, following his appointment as justice minister under then Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata in 1994.

His portfolio also includes the task of addressing issues related to the abduction of Japanese by North Korean agents.

Nakai won a lower house seat as a member of the Democratic Socialist Party. After joining the Liberal Party, he worked alongside current Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa.

Nakai is one of the founding members of a suprapartisan alliance focused on tackling the abduction issue. Before the formation of the current Cabinet, he urged DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama to create a ministerial post for dealing with the issue.

He is an open-minded person, but some say he does not pay enough attention to details.




Shizuka Kamei

Kamei, 72, was formerly a bureaucrat at the National Police Agency.

When he was a member of the LDP, he served as transport minister in the LDP's coalition government with the Social Democratic Party of Japan and New Party Sakigake (Pioneers).

During his time in the post, he made a name for himself as a tough negotiator by putting on hold a plan by airlines to hire part-time flight attendants.

He also played a supportive role in the coalition government led by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama of the SDPJ.

More recently he has had reckless moments, such as when he ousted a reporter from a briefing room because the reporter was not reporting the policies of Kamei's party--the People's New Party.

He holds a sixth dan in aikido, but Kamei also is known for his wide range of hobbies, which includes oil painting.

(People's New Party)



Mizuho Fukushima

Fukushima, 53, is a lawyer-turned politician whose lifework has been to improve human rights. She has authored many books, including those on privacy rights, sexual harassment and domestic violence.

She entered politics in 1994 at the request of then Social Democratic Party of Japan (now Social Democratic Party) leader Takako Doi. She took over as SDP leader from Doi in 2003.

Fukushima is an advocate of allowing married couples to use separate family names, and herself is de facto married to a lawyer, but not registered. She also is a mother of one child.

Though she has not hesitated to criticize the Democratic Party of Japan over security policies and other issues, it is uncertain how strongly the SDP can show its presence within the DPJ-dominant coalition.

She also serves as a guest professor at Gakushuin Women's College.

Fukushima says she likes to watch Japanese films to relax.

(SDP, upper house)



Yoshito Sengoku

Sengoku, 63, is a lawyer-turned-politician whose policy expertise includes the areas of public finance, financial services, health and welfare, and labor.

He won a seat in the House of Representatives as a Japan Socialist Party member for the first time in 1990.

However, Sengoku lost in the following general election in 1993, although it was thought he would coast to victory.

Sengoku is one of the founding members of the Democratic Party of Japan.

He is solicitous to young and midranking lawmakers, often inviting them out for dinner and discussing politics with them.

He had his stomach removed as a result of cancer in 2002, so his health is a matter of concern for many.

Sengoku is known for his outspoken manner.

When then Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa moved to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democratic Party, Sengoku publicly criticized Ozawa.





Yorihisa Matsuno

Matsuno, 48, has served as deputy chairman in the Democratic Party of Japan's Diet Affairs Committee, DPJ deputy secretary general and director of the House of Representatives Rules and Administration Committee.


Koji Matsui

Matsui, 49, has served as state minister for the Cabinet Office in the Democratic Party of Japan's shadow cabinet and deputy chairman of the party's Policy Research Committee. He also worked at the then International Trade and Industry Ministry's Research Institute.

(DPJ, upper house)


Kinya Takino

Takino, 62, is a former administrative vice internal affairs and communication minister. A Tokyo University graduate, he entered the then Home Affairs Ministry in 1971. Takino formerly served as chief of the ministry's local tax bureau.
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