Women Leaders


Takako Doi
Takako Doi is a role model for many Japanese women politicians for being the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives and ruled for three years from 1993-1996. In 1986, she took up her post as chairperson of the Social Democratic Party. It was the first time that a woman got the post. Her rise to power sparked what Japanese media termed as "Madonna boom" - a wave of women who aspired to enter politics and follow her example. A constitutional lawyer by profession, she continues to be the leader of her party.

Her foray into politics was unplanned. In 1969, at age 41, her hometown newspaper erroneously reported that she planned to run for a seat in the Lower House. Doi immediately went to the mayor’s office to explain the error, only to hear him joke, “Wouldn’t it be really stupid to run in an election you know you have no chance of winning?” Outraged by the sexist remark, Doi decided to run for office. She won, and was returned to office in seven subsequent elections. She convinced more women to enter Japanese politics, making her contribution to the women’s movement in Japan indisputable.

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Mitsuko Horiuchi
Mitsuko Horiuchi is the Regional Director for Asia Pacific office of the International Labour Organization. She joined the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations in 1993. In 1984, Horiuchi was concurrently appointed officer of the United Nations Secretariat and of the Nairobi Women's World Conference. In 1990, she was made cabinet councilor and director of the Office of Women's Affairs in the Prime Minister's Secretariat. She has also written frequently on women in the labor force and on United Nations policy concerning women's issues. You may view a copy of her speeches here.

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Tamako Nakanishi
Ms. Nakanishi is the president of Women’s Solidarity Foundation, a non-profit organization seeking gender equality by promoting women's participation in policy formation in Japan and elsewhere. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics or CAPWIP, a Philippine-based non-profit organization promoting equal participation of women in politics and decision-making. A former member of the Japanese Diet as a senator, she fought for the nation's equal employment opportunity law to open up jobs to women.

Contact Tamako Nakanishi:

c/o Women’s Solidarity Foundation
Address: 1-13-13 Koishikawa, Sound Bldg. 5F, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002 Japan
Email: wsf@zb3.so-net.ne.jp

Sadako Ogata
Ogata today is in center stage as Japan's special envoy on Afghan issues. That means she'll be drafting an ambitious agenda for Japan during Afghanistan's 10-year reconstruction period. In the process, Ogata is expected to help Tokyo shape a more visible and lasting presence in West Asia. Ogata is already making headway. She chaired recent reconstruction talks in Tokyo that netted more than $4.5 billion in pledges for Afghanistan from major countries.

Ogata assumed office as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 18 February 1991. On 29 September 1998, Mrs. Ogata was reelected by the General Assembly to a further two-year period. Tough and outspoken, she has stood her ground while dealing with Taliban warriors, Iraqi officials, and Balkan leaders. As U.N. refugee chief, she improved the agency's response to crises.

Mrs. Ogata was the Independent Expert of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar in 1990. From 1982 to 1985, she was Representative of Japan on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. From 1978 to 1979, she was Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNICEF.
She has served on many government advisory councils, and on the boards of academic associations and foundations. Born on 16 September 1927 in Tokyo, Ogata is descended from several generations of politicians and diplomats. She is married and has a son and a daughter.

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Makiko Tanaka
Makiko Tanaka was a former Diet member in the House of Representatives and the first-ever Japanese woman Minister for Foreign Affairs, appointed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2001. She later was forced out of the foreign ministry because of her conflict with bureaucrats.

On July 2002, she was embroiled in a scandal wherein she was accused of misusing the salaries of her state-funded secretaries. On August 09, 2002 she resigned from House of Representatives.

She started her political career in 1991 when she became the president of a transportation company and joined the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ).
In 1993, she ran as an independent from the third constituency of Niigata Prefecture. During the June 2000 elections, she was elected to the lower house of Diet under the Liberal Democratic Party.

Makiko is the daughter of Kakuei Tanaka, who was elected prime minister in 1972.

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Akiko Yamanaka

Akiko Yamanaka is a Member of Diet, the Japanese Parliament. Akiko was born on the northern island of Hokkaido, and has spent much of her life there. She went to Tokyo for university, graduating from Tsuda University's department of English literature in 1968. In 1987, Ms. Yamanaka became a Professor of Intercultural Studies in the Department of Humanities of Hokkai Gakuen University. She taught there until October 1996, when she was elected to the House of Representative of the National Diet. She was elected from Aichi Prefecture.

Before she was elected to national office, Ms. Yamanaka spent many years working on a wide-array of local civic committees and organizations in Hokkaido. These included: The Development Council in the Hokkaido Development Agency: the Coal Production Area Promotion Council in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry; the Overall Hokkaido Development Committee; the Hokkaido Agricultural Administration Council; the Hokkaido Fishery Administration Council; the Hokkaido Sightseeing Council and the City of Sapporo's Environment Council (Vice-Chair). In addition to her responsibilities in the Diet, she currently serves as the Chair of the International Committee of the Japanese Federation of Business and Professional Women.

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Dated: 16Oct2002