Congrats to Renho on becoming Democratic Party leader!

Good morning everyone,

That typhoon that is headed our way is moving slower than molasses in January (that's a really old expression that means something or someone is moving too slow-don't use it except in a joking way). So, it's looking like we may not see any effects from it till Tuesday or Wednesday. And, we may even see some sun today...that'd be nice! Don't get too used to it though-the typhoon may be arriving late, but the overcast weather will be back tomorrow and last all weekend.

Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party chose as its new leader a lawmaker whose father was Taiwanese, making her the first person of mixed heritage to head a major political party in Japan.

The rise of Renho Murata, a 48-year-old three-term upper house lawmaker, highlights the growing presence in society of Japanese citizens with at least one foreign parent.

Living in an island nation that kept itself isolated from the outside world for hundreds of years, people in Japan have tended to think of themselves as homogenous. However, the nation has long had a small minority of Koreans, and more recently foreign workers have taken a growing role.

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“I will have more discussion within the party about how Japan can promote such values as diversity and coexistence” by examining existing programs and legislation, such as a program of receiving foreigners as trainees, she said after her election as party leader Thursday.

Marriages between one Japanese citizen and a non-Japanese accounted for 3.3% of total marriages in Japan in 2015, up from around 0.5% when Ms. Murata, who prefers to go by the single name Renho, was born in 1967.

The children of some of these marriages have recently garnered public attention. Priyanka Yoshikawa, whose father is Indian, will represent Japan in the Miss World contest in Washington, D.C., later this year, following a Miss Universe contestant from Japan last year whose father is African-American. In sports, Aska Cambridge, a Japanese-Jamaican, anchored the 4x100-meter relay in the 2016 Summer Olympics, giving Japan its first silver medal in the track-and-field category in 88 years, while judo gold medalist Mashu Baker’s father is American.

If the Democratic Party were to take power, Ms. Murata would be in line to be prime minister, but the party is a long way from being able to challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The LDP enjoyed 40% support in a September poll by public broadcaster NHK, compared with 8% for the Democratic Party, which led the government from 2009 to 2012 before suffering an overwhelming defeat to Mr. Abe’s forces.

Ms. Murata, a former cabinet minister and mother of two, is the first woman to lead the opposition since Takako Doi, who served as leader of the Socialist Party from 1986 to 1991.

“Her election [as party leader] will be a step in the right direction—generational change, first female leader, etc.—but she will have a lot of work to do to forge the DP into a party that can compete for power,” said Tobias Harris, an analyst at political risk advisory firm Teneo Intelligence.

Ms. Murata was born in Tokyo to a Taiwanese father and a Japanese mother. She grew up speaking only Japanese. Wanting to learn more about her background, she put aside her career as a television newscaster and went to Peking University to study Mandarin from 1995 to 1997.

Ms. Murata was elected with overwhelming support from members of the Democratic Party, which includes a range of lawmakers from pro-military conservatives to former Socialists. Previous party chief Katsuya Okada announced his resignation after a lackluster performance by the party in elections for half of Parliament’s upper house in July.

I wish her all the best-Japan's politics needs some fresh blood. It often feels like its always just the same old thing year after year. Maybe this is the beginning of something new...

Have a great day!

 


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