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The current prime minster of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has just named five women as ministers in his Cabinet. This has previously only occurred in 2001, under former PM Koizumi. Although Abe is attempting to shorten the gap between men and women in the Japanese government, Abe’s party–the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP–is still majority male. 

Here is a short introduction to the five new ministers.

1. Midori Matsushima


Midori Matsushima (松島 みどり Matsushima Midori?, born 1956) is a Japanese politician of the Liberal Democratic Party, a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet (national legislature). A native of Hyogo Prefecture and graduate of the University of Tokyo, she worked at the national newspaper Asahi Shimbun from 1980 to 1995. She was elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in 2000 after an unsuccessful run in 1996.

Matsushima has said that she wants to revisit Japan’s penalties for sexual assaults and also focus on the rights of crime victims. She has been named as the new justice minister. 

2. Yuko Obuchi


Obuchi has been named the new minister of economy, trade and industry, which also puts her in charge of the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear incident and its cleanup. She joined the Diet at the age of 26, taking her father’s seat after he passed away.

On September 24, 2008, Obuchi was appointed Minister of State for Social Affairs and Gender Equality in the cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso. This made her Japan’s youngest cabinet member in the post-war era. Her party was out of office from September, 2009 until December 2012. In December 2012, she was appointed Vice Minister of Finance by the new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and on 3 September, 2014, she was made Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in Abe’s cabinet. As such, she became the minister responsible for the nuclear industry in Japan, with partial responsibility for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster clean-up.

3. Tomomi Inada 

Inada is the new policy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party. She graduated from Waseda University in 1981 and belongs to the Fukui bar association. She is known for being a defender of Japan’s war record.

On 15 August 2005 Inada was nominated as the official candidate of the LDP and run for the general election held on 11 September 2005. There she was elected to the House of Representatives for the first time. In the Diet she served as a member of judicial committee, and special committee for the establishment of political moral and the amendment on the public officers election act. From January 2008 to December 2008 she was also a member of the committee for General Affairs. At the 45th general election on 30 August 2009 she was elected to the House of Representatives for the second time.

4. Sanae Takaichi 


Takaichi is the new minister of internal affairs and communication. She has also worked in the United States government as a Congressional Fellow in the 1980s.

Sanae Takaichi (高市 早苗 Takaichi Sanae?, born March 7, 1961) served as Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, Minister of State for Innovation, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Gender Equality and Minister of State for Food Safety in the Japanese Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.

Born and raised in the city of Nara, Takaichi graduated from to Nara Prefectural Unebi Senior High School for her secondary education, then she received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Kobe University in 1984.

5. Eriko Yamatani

Yamatani is the new minister in charge of the abductions of Japanese by North Korea. She is a regular visitor to Yasukuni Shrine, like many of the other new cabinet members, and was a special adviser to Abe during his first PM appointment. 

Born in Musashino, TokyoJapan. Her father was a Sankei Shimbun newspaper reporter. She spent her childhood in Fukui city, where her wealthy family ran the geisha ryokan Beniya at Awara Onsen. Later her father was defeated in the general election, and, heavily in debt, the Yamatani family left Fukui for Tokyo. She attended the University of the Sacred Heart and worked in the United States for a publishing company. She became the editor-in-chief of Sankei Living Shimbun in 1985 and became known as an essayist and television personality.

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