|Born||March 17, 1952|
Yoshimi Watanabe (渡辺 喜美 Watanabe Yoshimi?, born 17 March 1952) is a Japanese politician, formerly of the Liberal Democratic Party and later the founder of Your Party. He is a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet (national legislature).
Watanabe is a native of Nasu District, Tochigi and graduated from Waseda University and Chuo University. His father was Michio Watanabe, a major political figure first elected to the Diet while Watanabe was in junior high school. Watanabe developed an interest in politics soon after his father was elected to office, and served as his father's secretary during the elder Watanabe's appointments as Minister of International Trade and Industry and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Following his father's death in 1995, Watanabe was elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in the 1996 general election, representing the Tochigi 3rd district, a newly created seat in his father's previous constituency in Tochigi Prefecture. Watanabe continues to represent the district today and is the only person to have held the seat, having successfully defended it in five subsequent general elections.
He was tapped by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to lead an administrative reform commission studying the potential for implementing the dōshūsei federal government system in Japan, and served in this capacity from 2006 to 2007. From October 2007 to August 2008, he served as Minister of State for Financial Policy and Administrative Reform in Yasuo Fukuda's cabinet. In April 2008, he urged the U.S. government to use public funds to solve the deepening subprime mortgage crisis, stating that "if there is a big hole in the bottom of the tub, no matter how much hot water you keep adding, you will never have enough hot water."
Watanabe formed Your Party as a splinter from the Liberal Democratic Party prior to the 2009 general election. His party ran on a platform of downsizing Japan's vast bureaucracy, but managed to win only five seats in the election, which was a resounding victory for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan. The party pushed forward into 2010 with a platform of deregulation and halving the corporate tax rate. His new party became popular among private investors and upper middle-class professionals.
Your Party won ten seats in the House of Councillors in the 2010 election, the third-strongest showing behind the LDP and DPJ. Watanabe planned to use his party's popularity to push for fiscal reforms, stating: "Our priority is anti-deflation legislation because Japan's economy faces the risk of a double-dip recession. We want to revise the BOJ law so the central bank and the government can agree on a goal of 2 percent inflation within two to three years." Watanabe was chosen as the Japanese public's most preferred candidate for prime minister in a July 2010 poll.
In January 2012, Watanabe announced that Your Party would join forces with Osaka governor Toru Hashimoto's political group Osaka Ishin-no-kai, and praised Hashimoto's economic reform efforts in Osaka. He announced that Your Party would sever ties with Hashimoto's Japan Restoration Party in May 2013 after Hashimoto made controversial comments regarding comfort women being a necessary part of World War II and suggesting that American servicemen use the Japanese sex industry to keep their urges under control.
Watanabe opposed the appointment of Haruhiko Kuroda as president of the Bank of Japan, saying that he would prefer to see a president come from a background other than the Ministry of Finance; he instead supported Heizo Takenaka for the position.
Scandal and resignation
In April 2014, Watanabe was found to have accepted a loan of 800 million yen from the chairman of a cosmetics company without disclosing it as a political donation. While insisting that the loan was used for personal purposes and not for political activities, he resigned as president of Your Party. The party commissioned an investigation by an outside attorney and CPA, who found that Watanabe had paid interest on the loan and had mainly used the funds for paying credit card bills for himself and his wife. While they found no violation of campaign finance laws, they discovered that Watanabe had also borrowed money from five other parties totaling 615 million yen.
He appears in "Takeshi-no-TV-tackle", a humorous political discussion show hosted by comedian Takeshi Kitano.
Watanabe is married with three children.
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- "Yoshimi Watanabe quits as leader of Your Party over cash scandal". AFP. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- "みんな、渡辺氏の借り入れ「違法性なし」 調査結果公表". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- Yoshimi Watanabe official website (Japanese)
|House of Representatives of Japan|
|Representative for Tochigi's 3rd District
1996 – present
|Minister of State for Financial Services and Administrative Reform of Japan
|Minister of State for Regulatory Reform of Japan