Yuriko Koike

Yuriko Koike

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Security Affairs, Minister of Defense of Japan
Date of Birth: 15.07.1952
Country: Japan

Biography of Yuriko Koike

Yuriko Koike is a Japanese government and political figure who has served as the Governor of Tokyo since August 1, 2016. She was also a member of the House of Representatives from Tokyo's 10th district from September 11, 2005, to August 30, 2009. Koike has held various positions in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, including Minister of Defense, Minister of the Environment, and State Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs. However, she resigned as Minister of Defense just 54 days after taking office due to a scandal involving the leakage of classified information.

Koike was born and raised in Ashiya, a small affluent city near Kobe. She completed her secondary education at Konan Junior and Senior High School for Girls. Her father, Yuziro Koike, was a petroleum trader who was also involved in politics, supporting Shintaro Ishihara and the Shield Society in the 1960s and unsuccessfully running for the House of Representatives in 1969. Yuziro believed that it was important for Japan to strengthen its relations with Arab countries to ensure stable oil supplies and prevent Japan from being dragged into an oil war in the future.

After dropping out of Kwansei Gakuin University's sociology department in September 1971, Yuriko continued to study Arabic at the American University in Cairo and graduated in October 1976 with a bachelor's degree in sociology as the top student of the university. At the age of 21, she married another Japanese student but soon divorced. Yuriko started working as an Arabic translator and later became a journalist, interviewing political figures such as Muammar Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat in 1978 and becoming a news anchor in 1979. In 1990, she received the "Japan's Women TV Anchors" award.

In 1992, Yuriko Koike was elected to the House of Councillors as a member of the New Party of Japan. She then won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1993, representing Hyougo's 2nd district. She was reelected in 1996, this time representing Hyougo's 6th district as a member of the New Progressive Party. Koike served in this position until the general elections in 2000, running as a candidate of the New Conservative Party. In 2002, she joined the Liberal Democratic Party.

From 2003 to 2007, Koike held the positions of Minister of the Environment and State Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs in Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet. Along with Satuki Katayama and Makiko Fujino, she became known as one of Koizumi's "assassins" in the lower house elections in September 2005, opposing Koizumi's policy as a supporter of a hard-line approach within the LDP.

In July 2007, Yuriko Koike was appointed as Minister of Defense, becoming the first woman to hold this position. However, she announced her resignation at the end of August 2007, citing a scandal involving the leakage of Aegis secret information as the main reason for her departure. Koike later hinted that the real reason for her resignation was a widely publicized fight with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki over the replacement of the Vice-Minister, as the opposition would have used it to oppose the Japanese terrorism laws.

In the 2008 LDP leadership elections, Yuriko Koike submitted her candidacy to become the president of the LDP, becoming the first woman in Japanese history to ever vie for the position of Prime Minister. However, she finished third with 46 votes, while Taro Aso emerged as the winner with 351 votes.

In July 2016, Koike was elected as the Governor of Tokyo, defeating former Minister of General Affairs Hiroya Masuda and journalist/TV personality Shuntaro Torigoe. Despite being a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, she ran as an independent candidate. Koike had hoped for the party's support, but the LDP leadership nominated Hiroya Masuda as their candidate. Furthermore, the leaders of the Tokyo LDP branch threatened party members with punishment if they supported Koike. However, despite lacking support from her own party, Koike ran a successful campaign and won the election with 44.49% of the votes, surpassing the LDP candidate who received only 27.40% of the votes.

In the 2017 prefectural elections, her party took first place, overtaking the LDP.

Since becoming the Governor of Tokyo, Koike has made significant contributions to the city's governance and has been focused on improving Tokyo's infrastructure, disaster preparedness, and environmental sustainability. She has also been a prominent advocate for gender equality and women's empowerment in politics.

Despite facing challenges and opposition, Yuriko Koike's leadership and determination have made her a respected and influential figure in Japanese politics. She continues to serve as the Governor of Tokyo, striving to make the city a better place for its residents and visitors alike.