Renho says Abenomics has stalled

renho2A woman with a tough reputation for trying to stop Japan wasting money is hoping to be the lead challenger to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Reuters says that Renho has become the clear favourite to become the first female leader of Japan’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan.

She is hoping to succeed Katsuya Okada who recently announced he would resign following poor election results for the party.

Renho, 48, has a a Taiwanese father and a Japanese mother and uses only one name in public life.

She told Reuters that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” policy has stalled and a change of gear is needed to favour people over corporations.

That led one commentator on Japan Today to remark: “Saying “Abenomics” has stalled is like saying the clunking car you were pushing along because it had run out of gas came to a halt because you got tired of pushing.”

Renho is noted for her white suits and robust approach to bureaucracy.

In fact, she was part of the cabinet when the DPJ was in government in 2010. The Japan Times claims that at that time, Renho had several fierce, face-to-face battles with bureaucrats who she thought were wasting taxpayers’ money.

Despite the overall weakness of the DPJ, Renho’s personal popularity seems especially among female voters.

Her bid for party leadership comes at a time when gender is often debated in politics.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Japan. After World War II, Japanese women won the right to vote and run for office. But, 70 years on, women’s representation in both houses of Japan’s parliament remains low by most statistical measures.

However, this year two other female politicians have been in the spotlight. One of them is Koike Yuriko who became the first female governor of Tokyo in the summer.

As Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics it will make her one of Japan’s faces to the world.
Another high profile figure is the defence minister, Tomomi Inada, the woman dubbed in the Financial Times as “Japan’s Joan of Arc”.

There have been reports in the media that long before taking up the post of defence, Ms Inada said Japan should consider arming itself with nuclear weapons.

This week, it was announced that the Defence Ministry is requesting a record budget of 5.16 trillion yen (£39 billion) including money for new missiles, but not of course any armed with nuclear weapons.

If Renho manages to become leader of the opposition, she will no doubt wish to robustly question Inada on both the strategy and the cost of her proposals.

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