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Interview with Yuriko Koike

JapanCIA The World Factbook
Interview with Yuriko Koike,
Yuli Ismartono [time 25:50]

12th March 2008,

Yuli Ismartono: Ms. Koike, thank you for taking time off from your busy schedule to be with us.

Yuriko Koike: It's my pleasure, great pleasure.

YI: You have been in politics for quite some time, what got you interested in politics and did you have a special strategy to overcome the stumbling blocks women usually face in politics?

Yuriko Koike: Responding to the latter question, I don't have a particular strategy to tackle hundreds of hurdles in Japanese politics. I try to keep myself as natural as possible, and always try to be myself, because if I have any special strategy about being a woman politician, it may cause other problems in a country like Japan. So, I think, it's much wiser to be natural. And to respond to the first question, I have been working in the political arena for 16-17 years and I am actually one of the most senior women politicians in Japan. I found this out when I looked at a handbook on Japanese politicians, in which I was listed as one the most senior women politician. I admit that I was interested in the political world sinceI was a journalist for quite some time, when the world has changed quite a lot after the fall of the Berlin wall, the time Japan went through its troubled economy. Everything was changing in the 1990's. As a news presenter, I saw how the world was changing, and thought that Japan should change too. And in order to make a change, there should be good policies and good politics. And I thought that I could do something to contribute.

YI: Do you think that in Japanese politics there are enough women involved?

Yuriko Koike: Actually, the number of women in politics today is record high since women got the suffrage in 1946. But of course, it's not enough at all. I always try to invite many capable women, who have the talent, have experience in policies, or to be involved in politics, because it's so important for women, for anybody, to be in a place of decision-making. Otherwise, even the policies, ideas or concepts are deliberated and discussed but they are never realized. So, being in the center of decision making place is most important. In the 21st century, women's ideas as consumers are really essential for making the right decisions for their country or for the world. So, I think more women should be involved in policy-making and decision-making. In order to increase the number of women legislators, the first and most important thing is to run in the election. You can't win the lottery if you don't buy the lottery ticket. So, I always invite many of my women friends to run. And that's one way to increase the numbers of women legislators. And I think the current tendency is very interesting. For instance, 10 or 20 years ago, when senior politicians die, their successors were usually sons or sons-in-laws. But today, many of the successors are daughters rather than sons. This tells us how different we have become from the past. And that is a good legacy.

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Personal Plofile
Yuriko Koike Yuriko Koike,
Despite the international spotlight on newly-emerging giant China, to Southeast Asians, Japan remains a vital economic partner and a dependable supporter of regional development and security concerns. One lady politician from the Land of the Rising Sun, who embodies the spirit of modernity and globalization, is Yuriko Koike, a member of Japan's Diet or House of Representatives, who served as minister of defense and environment under previous administrations. A sociology graduate of Cairo University, the multi-talented Ms. Koike is fluent in Arabic and was once a television journalist.
In the course of her professional career, Ms. Koike has received many awards. As a journalist, she was awarded the ATP Prize for her reports on the Gulf War and the SJ Prize in recognition of being the first anchorwoman in Japan to specialize in business affairs. In 1993, Ms. Koike received the Omega Prize from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and her most recent award is the Global MDG3-Torch from Denmark, which she received this year.
Yuli Ismartono Yuli Ismartono, [Interviewer]
Yuli Ismartono is an executive editor at Tempo, Indonesia's foremost weekly news magazine. Ms. Ismartono, who holds degrees in political science and journalism, has been with Tempo for 15 years, mostly assigned to covering events around the Asia region and interviewing national leaders - such as former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung,Cambodia's King Sihanouk and prime minister Hun Sen, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other newsmakers. She is currently in charge of Tempo's English language edition and managing editor of AsiaViews, an online and hardcopy magazine featuring news and commentaries from the Asia region, of which Tempo is a member and coordinator of the media group that publishes it.
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