Taro Kono

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Tarō Kōno
河野 太郎
Taro Kono.jpg
Member of the House of Representatives of Japan
Incumbent
Assumed office
October 1996
Majority 103,280 (2005)
Personal details
Born (1963-01-10) January 10, 1963 (age 51)
Hiratsuka, Odawara
Political party Liberal Democratic Party
Relations Yōhei Kōno (father)
Website Official website (in English)

Tarō Kōno (河野 太郎 Kōno Tarō?, born January 10, 1963) is a Japanese politician belonging the Liberal Democratic Party, and a member of the House of Representatives. Born in Hiratsuka, Odawara, Kanagawa and a graduate of Keio University, he was elected for the first time in 1996. In 2009 he campaigned to be made President of the LDP.[1] His father is Yōhei Kōno, the only President of the Liberal Democratic Party who did not go on to become Prime Minister of Japan.

Life and career outside of Parliament[edit]

Tarō Kōno was born on January 10, 1963, in Hiratsuka, Odawara, the oldest of the three children of Yōhei Kōno. He was born into a family of politicians. His father, Yōhei Kōno, his grandfather, Ichirō Kōno, and his great-uncle, Kenzō Kōno, were all active in national politics. In 2003, Yōhei Kōno was made chairman of the House of Representatives, while Kenzo Kono was chairman of the House of Councillors between 1971 and 1977.

He attended Hanamizu Elementary School, Keio Middle School, and then Keio High School. In 1981, he entered Keiō University to study economics.

In 1982, he went to the United States, where he attended the Suffield Academy and Georgetown University, and studied comparative politics. In 1983, he worked for Alan Cranston in his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.[1]He also worked for Congressman Richard Shelby of Alabama for two years. He also spent time at the Warsaw School of Economics, Poland, during which he spent a night in prison after visiting the home of Solidarity leader, Lech Wałęsa.

Kōno graduated from Keiō University in 1985 and the following year he joined Fuji Xerox. He moved to Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific in Singapore in 1991. In 1993, he joined Nippon Tanshi, a supplier of electric components for Toyota, GM, Matsushita, and other companies.

He has also become involved in a number of bodies managing professional sports. He is Chairman of Shonan Bellmare, a professional football club, and of the Japan Race Horse Association, which organizes Japan's largest yearling sales. He is also President of the Kanagawa Triathlon Union, the Kanagawa Track and Field Association, and the Hiratsuka Baseball Association. He teaches a graduate class at Hosei University.

Kōno is married to Kaori, a returnee from Australia, and has a son, Ippei, born in 2002. The couple enjoy scuba diving and going to the movies.

In 2002, when Yōhei Kōno fell ill from a 30 year old hepatitis C infection, Tarō Kōno offered a part of his liver for donation. This led to a public argument, as his father refused the offer. Eventually his father accepted, and in April 2002, Tarō Kōno donated part of his liver in a 15-hour operation.[2] Kōno has since supported changes to the law regarding organ donation.

Political career[edit]

Local district Kōno 15th district of Kanagawa Prefecture.

Kōno was first elected to the House of Representatives of Japan as a Liberal Democratic member in October 1996, at age 33. He was re-elected in June 2000, November 2003 and September 2005. His winning majority increased from 13,297 in 1996 to 63,058 in 2000, 71,968 in 2003, and 103,280 in 2005. The total number of votes he received in 2005 was 186,770, the second largest number in Japan's electoral history (second only to then Prime Minister Koizumi's total in the same election.

Government From January to October 2002, Kōno was Parliamentary Secretary for Public Management, responsible for administrative reforms, local governments, and "e-government." From November 2005 to September 2006 he was Senior Vice Minister of Justice in Koizumi's government.

Liberal Democratic Party Jiminto Kōno was the Acting Chairman of the Party Committee until November 2003 and was one of the few members of the LDP to oppose the dispatch of the Self Defense Forces to Iraq. In 2004, Kōno, then 41, was appointed Assistant Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party, and was also elected Prefectural Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party in Kanagawa Prefecture. He was the youngest Prefectural Chairman in the LDP. In 2005, he led the Party in Kanagawa in the general election.

Legislative record In 1997, Kōno established a House subcommittee on Genetically Modified Organisms in 1997 and supported new labeling rules on GMOs.

In October 2002, Kōno was named Director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. He resigned from this position two months later in protest over the Iraq War, accusing Foreign Minister Kawaguchi of not adequately explained the government's policy.

In 2004, Kōno co-sponsored the Economic Sanction Amendment to the Foreign Exchange Law, which gives the government power to unilaterally declare economic sanctions on any state; and the Port Closure Bill, which allows the government to refuse the entry of foreign ships from Japanese ports. His website states that: "North Korea was the target." He also sponsored a United Nations Reform Bill that would have required the government to reduce its voluntary contributions to the UN Systems by 10 percent each year until changes were made in the membership of the Security Council.

Kōno has also been a member of five standing committees of the House of Representatives: Economy; Environment; Health, Labour, & Welfare; Trade & Industry; and Finance. In addition, he has been a member of two special committees: Consumer Affairs, and Children & Youth Affairs.

Policy positions As stated on his website, Kōno is the only Japanese law-maker who runs a Korean webpage and "actively makes use of intern visas for Koreans" [3] He opposes the government's nuclear policy, especially plans to pursue the nuclear fuel cycle and to build new power stations. He has said that he would not visit Yasakuni shrine if he was ever made Prime Minister, although he visits the shrine at present because he has relatives who died in the war. [2] He supports amendment of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, allowing the Self-Defense Forces to engage in warfare. He supports the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, but seeks revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)[4] On the issue of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in the Okinawan city of Futenma, Kono's "off the record" views "conflict with the official Japanese position."[4] He opposes donation of development aid to any countries that have failed to ratify the Complete Test Ban Treaty. He has supported raising the consumption tax rate to 8 percent, with the funds to be directed towards the National Pension.

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