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POLITICS

LDP’s Shinjiro Koizumi has strong supporters in Japan, U.S.

  • 2016-02-05 15:00:00
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(Themis: February 2016 – pp. 34-35)

 

 Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s second son, House of Representatives member Shinjiro Koizumi (34 years old; elected for his first term in August 2009, now serving his third term; head of the LDP Agriculture and Forestry Division) is in the limelight as the only politician who is capable of arousing interest in politics, from the 18-year-olds newly acquiring voting right to middle-age women, in a political environment dominated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

 

 An opinion poll conducted by Jiji Press in January (through direct interviews with 2,000 adult men and women on Jan. 8-11) showed that Shinjiro ranked first as the choice for the next prime minister, beating even Abe (Abe was second place at 19.4%, followed by Regional Revitalization Minister Shigeru Ishiba at 12.5%).

 

 Shinjiro’s rise as a politician has been phenomenal. Barely two months after his election, he was appointed deputy director of the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) Public Speeches Division on account of his eloquence. He was quickly promoted to division chief in September 2010 for his contribution to the party’s victory in the House of Councillors election in July.

 

 In October 2011, he was given the job of director of the Youth Division. He created a “Team 11” within the division to support reconstruction in the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster areas. The team talked to the local people in the temporary housing in Fukushima or communities in Namie-cho. His efforts earned him an appointment as parliamentary secretary for reconstruction.

 

 Shinjiro was appointed chief of the LDP Agriculture and Forestry Division in October 2015 to deal with agricultural groups opposed to the TPP, a main concern of the party in the Upper House election next July.

 

 Shinjiro’s phenomenal rise in the government and the LDP and the amount of media attention he attracts is extraordinary in every sense of the word.

 

 Actually, Shinjiro has a secret that has only been reported on partially: He has the support of a group of American experts on Japan and the Koizumi family, a line of politicians dating back to his grandfather, Junya, who serve as his political “choreographer.”

 

 Shinjiro studied economics at the Kanto Gakuin University. He decided to take over his father’s support base and become a politician after his elder brother Kotaro decided to become an actor in 2001.

 

 He opted to study in the U.S. to add luster to his curriculum vitae, enrolling in the Department of Political Science of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts. Prof. Gerald Curtis, an expert on Japan who is close to his father, took care of him at that time.

 

 After his graduation, Shinjiro became a researcher at the Japan section of the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The head of the section then was Michael Green, senior director for Asia in the Bush administration’s National Security Council (NSC). Shinjiro co-authored two papers with Green, who was his mentor on security issues.

 

 In November 2011, during the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration, Shinjiro (then director of the LDP’s Youth Division) stated in a speech that he “could not believe his ears” that (then) President Sadakazu Tanigaki, who was opposed to Japan’s participation in the TPP talks, had said that “it is not good to work too closely with the U.S. and omit China and Asia.” He created a stir for contradicting the party president even though he was just a rookie Diet member. Green had trained him well.

 

 However, with regard to the issue of nuclear plants, while the position of Green’s CSIS is “promotion of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear energy business,” Shinjiro has not taken a clear stand. From his statements so far, his associates reckon that he is in favor of “revoking the zero nuclear plant policy and promoting nuclear fuel recycling.”

 

 Actually, Shinjiro’s other “policy staff,” the Koizumi family has another strategy on nuclear policy. A journalist knowledgeable about the family said:

 

 “The Koizumi family has a very capable policy staff. One is Junichiro’s younger brother Masaya, who is in the plumbing business. Another is his elder sister Nobuko, who meets with the female secretaries of LDP and DPJ Diet members once or twice a month to collect information. These people who served Junichiro are now serving Shinjiro. They sent Shinjiro to the quake areas on a personal capacity only two weeks after 3.11.”

 

 Judging that Shinjiro’s position of promoting nuclear energy despite 3.11 would be untenable, Masaya put Junichiro to work.

 

 The above political journalist revealed that, “I heard that the former prime minister’s sudden advocacy of the elimination of nuclear plants was suggested by Masaya. In short, Junichiro did his part for his son’s political career.”

 

 Themis requested an interview with Shinjiro but this was turned down. (Abridged)

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