YI: This is interesting, so women in Japan don't face obstacles to climb up the ladder of power?
Yuriko Koike: I don't think that there are that too many hurdles in front of us. The point is that anyone, whether man or woman, those who are experienced, can climb up the ladder of power. It's not a case of sex.
YI: You mentioned you were in the media before you became a politician. What is your view about how the media covers politics in Japan?
Yuriko Koike: Well, I was quite popular when I was good at criticizing the government. Now, I'm on the opposite side. To criticize and analyze and to recommend good policies are the most important roles of the media. And, as a news presenter, I always tried to criticize but doing it with constructive ideas. Now I'm a newsmaker, rather than a news presenter. My experience as a news presenter provided me with useful hints and ideas, particularly when I was minister of the environment. Especially inthe field of environment, the policies should be close to the people, the consumers, housewives, and children. So, my experience in the media helped me on the way to make a presentation of a new policy, for instance, against using plastic bags.
YI: You were also a minister of defense albeit briefly -- during the previous administration. What do you think should be Japan's greatest security concern?
Yuriko Koike: Well, the situation in East Asia is still insecure, unlike in Europe and other areas. We have North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Unlike in Europe, our area is still unstable, mainly because the North Korean government is not transparent, still challenging the nuclear development and the six-party talks now are deadlocked. So that would be the most serious concern that Japan is facing. Also, the situation in the Pacific, we have to prepare ourselves for the future. Therefore the so called the transformation of US bases in Japan remains an important agenda, and even after I was no longer defense minister, I remain involved with that security issue.
YI: What about Japan and ASEAN? What kind of security collaboration can there be between Japan and ASEAN?
Yuriko Koike: Well, we share an ocean, where there is a lot of maritime traffic. We have common problems, like how to secure our sea lanes. There are common issues that we have to share. Also, xchanging information, maintaining good contacts and minimizing liability and tension among the neighboring countries is the most important thing.
YI: You were also the environment minister, a far cry from defense. Yet you initiated a few pioneering projects, like the Mottainai Furoshiki. Can you explain more about this?
Yuriko Koike: I served as minister of the environment and minister of defense. You may think the two fields are far apart and so different, however think about the term security, whether it means national or international, short-term, mid-term or long term, to the environment is the same. Let's take an example of the issue of global warming. This can be either short-term or long-term, but it is also an international security issue. The word security commonly applies to the environment and national issues. As for Mottainai Furoshiki. When I was minister of the environment, I tried to abolish the use of plastic bags, which were not eco-friendly. It doesn't go inside the soil. Instead of using plastic bags, I recommended the use of our traditional wisdom like this. Mottainai Furoshiki is a square cloth, made of recycled material. By using this you can carry anything. You can wrap this in a square, round and long shapes.