Seiji Maehara

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The Honourable
Seiji Maehara
前原 誠司
Maehara Crop.jpg
Minister for National Strategy and Economic Policy
In office
1 October 2012 – 26 December 2012
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
Preceded by Motohisa Furukawa
Succeeded by Akira Amari
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
17 September 2010 – 7 March 2011
Prime Minister Naoto Kan
Preceded by Katsuya Okada
Succeeded by Yukio Edano (Acting)
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
In office
16 September 2009 – 17 September 2010
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
Naoto Kan
Preceded by Kazuyoshi Kaneko
Succeeded by Sumio Mabuchi
Personal details
Born (1962-04-30) 30 April 1962 (age 52)
Kyoto, Japan
Political party Democratic Party (1998–present)
Other political
affiliations
New Party (1992–1994)
Sakigake Party (1994–1998)
Alma mater Kyoto University
Website Official website

Seiji Maehara (前原 誠司 Maehara Seiji?, born 30 April 1962) is a Japanese politician who has been a member of the House of Representatives of Japan since 1993. He was the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) from 2005 to 2006, and later served as Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and Minister of Foreign Affairs under the cabinets of Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan, before resigning from the cabinet in March 2011 after he acknowledged receiving illegal donations from a South Korean national living in Japan.[1] Affiliated to the openly revisionist organization Nippon Kaigi,[2] Maehara is viewed as a "China hawk"[3][4] and a proponent of close ties with the United States.[5][6][7]

Personal background[edit]

Maehara was born in Kyoto to parents from Tottori Prefecture. He attended the law faculty of Kyoto University, where he majored in international politics. He attended the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management from 1987 to 1991.

Maehara married his wife Airi (愛里) in June 1995; they have no children. He likes to take photographs of trains as a hobby.

Early political career[edit]

Maehara won election to the Kyoto Prefectural Assembly in 1991 with the support of, among others, future Diet member Keiro Kitagami. At the time, he was the youngest prefectural assemblyman in Kyoto history.

He was elected to the House of Representatives as a member of the Japan New Party of Morihiro Hosokawa in 1993. In 1994, he left the party and formed the "Democratic Wave" with several other young parliamentarians, but later that year joined the Sakigake Party, which was briefly part of the majority government. In 1998, he joined the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) when it was formed that same year.

As a member of the DPJ he focused on security affairs and often negotiated with the government. In the shadow governments he has served as the Shadow Minister for Security Affairs and Shadow Minister for the Defense Agency.

Term as DPJ President[edit]

After the crushing defeat of the DPJ in the 2005 snap election and the resignation of DPJ leader Katsuya Okada, the elected representatives of the party met to choose a new leader. The two candidates were Naoto Kan and Maehara. Maehara defeated the 58-year-old Kan by a razor-thin count of 96–94 in open balloting by party members from both Houses of the Diet, with two members abstaining and two others having cast invalid votes. Maehara was appointed DPJ president on 17 September 2005.

However, Maehara's term as party leader was short lived. Although he initially led the party's criticism of the Koizumi administration, particularly in regards to connections between LDP lawmakers and scandal-ridden Livedoor, the revelation that a fake email was used to try to establish this link greatly damaged his credibility. The scandal led to the resignation of Representative Hisayasu Nagata and of Maehara as party leader on 31 March. New elections for party leader were held on 7 April, in which Ichirō Ozawa was elected President.

Cabinet[edit]

In the Japanese general election, 2009, the Democratic Party won a two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives, allowing the party to form a new government.

Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport[edit]

Maehara was appointed Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on September 16, 2009. In this role, he was the spokesman for a number of government initiatives, including:

  • Cessation of construction work on Yamba Dam
  • Opening Haneda Airport in Tokyo to long-haul international flights
  • Bankruptcy restructuring of Japan Airlines
  • Experimentation with reducing or eliminating tolls on the Japanese expressway network

Minister of Foreign Affairs[edit]

Then Prime Minister Naoto Kan reshuffled the cabinet effective 17 September 2010, making Maehara the youngest Minister of Foreign Affairs in postwar Japanese history. The main international relations event during his tenure as foreign minister was the 2010 Senkaku boat collision incident, which led to increased tensions between Japan and the People's Republic of China concerning their overlapping claims to the Senkaku Islands.

Resignation from the Cabinet[edit]

In March 2011, Maehara resigned as Minister for Foreign Affairs after it emerged that he had accepted a political donation of ¥250,000 (approx. US$3,000)[8] from a 72-year-old South Korean permanent resident of Japan who operated a restaurant in Kyoto. Maehara had known the woman since junior high school,[9] but her foreign nationality made the donation illegal if it had been accepted intentionally.[10] Maehara apologised to the nation for only holding the post for 6 months and for "provoking distrust" over his political funding.[10] According to the Japan Times, the resignation would cause Japanese relations with the United States to weaken.[11] The donation was revealed by an opposing party politician, Shoji Nishida; The Economist described the incident as a scandal based on a technicality that primarily illustrates the unsatisfactory treatment of Koreans in Japan.[12]

Candidacy for Prime Minister[edit]

Following Kan's announced resignation in August 2011, Maehara initially planned to support Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, but broke off this support due to disagreement over whether to raise the consumption tax, and declared his own candidacy for the presidency of the DPJ on 22 August.[13] He lost to Noda and Economy Minister Banri Kaieda in the first round of balloting on 29 August.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Maehara announces resignation over illegal donations from foreigner". Mainichi Daily News. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Nippon Kaigi website
  3. ^ "Kan replaces over half of his Cabinet". The Japan Times. Kyodo News. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "Japan's new foreign minister gets tough on China". Associated Press. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "Factbox: Japan's new foreign minister Maehara". Reuters. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "Japan’s Premier Shuffles Cabinet". The New York Times. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Johnston, Eric, "Contenders' backgrounds", Japan Times, 28 August 2011, p. 2
  8. ^ Sanchanta, Mariko (3 March 2011). "Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to Resign Over Illegal Political Donations". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "When will Japan’s political musical chairs stop?". MSNBC. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Japan Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara resigns". BBC. 6 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "DPJ loses potential successor to Kan". Japan Times. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  12. ^ A foreigner in her own home: Shoddy treatment of its Korean residents once again deals Japan a black eye. The Economist. 10 March 2011
  13. ^ Seiji Maehara to contest Japan leadership race. BBC. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.

External links[edit]

House of Representatives of Japan
Preceded by
Mikio Okuda
Eiichi Nagasue
Yukio Takemura
Bunmei Ibuki
Katsuhiko Takeuchi
Representative for Kyoto 1st district (multi-member)
1993–1996
Served alongside: Keiji Kokuta, Bunmei Ibuki, Yuzuru Takeuchi, Mikio Okuda
District eliminated
New constituency Representative for the Kinki PR block
1996–2000
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Mikio Okuda
Representative for Kyoto 2nd district
2000–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Katsuya Okada
Leader of the Democratic Party
2005–2006
Succeeded by
Ichirō Ozawa
Political offices
Preceded by
Kazuyoshi Kaneko
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Sumio Mabuchi
Preceded by
Katsuya Okada
Minister for Foreign Affairs
2010–2011
Succeeded by
Takeaki Matsumoto