In a move to attract female voters and to demonstrate a new and improved party in preparation for the Upper House election next summer, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed two women to key positions in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Abe appointed Sanae Takaichi as Policy Research Council Chief. Takaichi was formerly a minister tasked with finding a solution to the country’s low birthrate. A staunch conservative and nationalist, she is opposed to giving long-term foreign residents, especially Korean and Chinese ones, local suffrage, pointing out the potential national security issues that could arise by allowing foreigners to influence local governments and assemblies. Abe also tapped former postal minister Seiko Noda as chair of the LDP’s General Council, nominally the highest decision-making body of the party. 52-year old Noda has been regarded as a pioneer female politician and has attracted controversy when she gave birth through artificial insemination at the age of 50. Abe noted that the positions of party president, policy chief, and general council chair were traditionally given to veteran lawmakers, a group that has been largely dominated by men.
Sources close to the prime minister also mention other new appointments. Fumio Kishida, a state minister once involved with issues regarding the air bases in Okinawa and the island dispute with Russia, will be appointed foreign minister. Toshimitsu Motogi, who once served as a financial services minister, will works as an industry minister. Motogi will be in charge of looking into Japan’s nuclear energy situation as well as its involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks.