The Democratic Party, Japan’s main opposition party, has elected its first female leader, Renho Murata.
Renho hopes to repair the Democratic Party’s image, which has suffered from political infighting, policy flip flops and broken promises.
She won the party election by a landslide with 503 points, while her opponents received 230 points and 116 points respectively.
Speaking after the vote, she said, “From here on, we face a giant ruling party.”
“I’d like to call on everyone to join me in creating a party that does not criticise but makes proposals…so that one day we will become Japan’s choice.”
She went on to say, “I will have more discussion within the party about how Japan can promote such values as diversity and coexistence.”
The 48-year-old easily defeated her rivals, to become the third woman in two months to enter the political office at a senior level. In July, Yuriko Koike was elected governor of Tokyo, and in August, Tomomi Inada became Japan’s second defence minister.
Women are considerably underrepresented within the Japanese parliament. Women make up less than 10 per cent of MPs in the lower house of parliament, and only 20 per cent in the upper house. The current leader only has three women in his political cabinet of 20.
Renho’s election was also not without controversy. Despite previously insisting she no longer held a Japanese-Taiwanese dual citizenship, it was later revealed that she was in fact still a dual citizen.
Under Japanese law, citizens are not allowed to hold dual citizenship and must choose one by the age of 22. She has since said, “I would like to apologise for the recent trouble I have caused by my unclear memory and statements.”
Renho started her career in politics in 2004, holding a number of positions in parliament including Minister of Administrative Reforms. Prior to this she was a swimsuit model and also worked as a journalist. She is also mother to twins.