Former State Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Atsushi Oshima, 60, has been named the new secretary general of the Democratic Party (DP) as a “relief pitcher” replacing the previously picked former Policy Research Committee chair Shiori Yamao, 43. Oshima has no experience serving as a senior party executive or as cabinet minister, even during the time of the old Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), so his ability is untested.
After being appointed as secretary general, Oshima professed his support for President Seiji Maehara on Sept. 5.
Oshima started working for NKK (now the JFE Steel Corporation) after graduating from university, but he moved to a life insurance company when he was 38 years old, where he was mainly involved in marketing. After working as a company employee for 19 years, he applied to become a politician when the DPJ was recruiting party candidates. He won his first election during the House of Representatives election of 2000. Except for getting elected on the proportional representation ticket in 2012, he consistently won his Lower House seat in the electoral districts.
Oshima enjoys Maehara’s complete trust, having served as his campaign manager in the DP presidential election last year and this year. After Maehara lost last year, Oshima held study meetings regularly with Maehara, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno, who is now the Diet Affairs Committee chair, and others to work for Maehara’s comeback. He is also a close confidant of former Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano, formerly from the Liberal Democratic Party, and is known to listen to his advice.
While Oshima is known to have an amicable personality, certain party members are “worried” (according to a mid-ranking member) about his untested ability since he became secretary general without experiencing any key positions in the past. A senior ruling party official reckons that “in reality, Maehara will manage everything.”
Maehara appointed two other close confidants as party executives: Junya Ogawa, 46, former parliamentary vice minister of internal affairs and communication, as director general of the Executive Office; and Kenta Izumi, 43, former parliamentary vice minister of the Cabinet Office, as chair of the Organization Committee. (Slightly abridged)