Harue Kitamura

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Harue Kitamura
Mayor of Ashiya, Hyogo
Personal details
Born11 July 1928
Alma materRitsumeikan University
AwardsMedal of Honor (Japan), Order of the Rising Sun

Harue Kitamura (北村 春江 (Kitamura, Harue) born 11 July 1928) is a Japanese politician, lawyer, and feminist. She was the first woman to be elected mayor of a Japanese city, serving three terms as the mayor of Ashiya, Hyogo.

Early life[edit]

Kitamura was born in Kyoto on July 11, 1928. Raised in Osaka,[1] in 1952, she graduated from Ritsumeikan University's law department. After experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace, Kitamura decided to become a lawyer to improve conditions and reduce inequality. She became the first Ritsumeikan alumna to pass the bar exam in 1956.[1]


In 1959, Kitamura started working at the Osaka Family Court, then from 1979 until 1991, at the Ashiya Education Commission to chair terms.[2]

Kitamura ran for mayor of Ashiya in 1991 as an independent, and became the first female mayor of a Japanese city.[3] Her main supporters were mothers who supported her plans for public school reform.[4] In 1992 Kitamura was presented with a Medal of Honor.

The Great Hanshin Earthquake occurred during her time in office, and 400 of Ashiya's citizens were killed. With transportation and official communications lines down, Kitamura had to call the mayors of Osaka, Beppu, and Izumo personally to ask for aid. Refugees stayed in city hall for weeks until housing was built.[2]

In 2003 Kitamura retired from political life, and chose not to run for re-election.[5][6] She was publicly recognized by the governor of Hyogo prefecture, Toshizō Ido, for her work. Kitamura was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, 3rd Class, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon (旭日中綬章, Kyokujitsu chūjushō) in 2004.[7]


  • Kitamura, Harue (1986). "Kazoku no henyō to fujin-mondai". In Inui, Shōzō; Hatanaka, Kazuo; Yamashita, Kenji (eds.). Gendai nihon no kokka to hō. Kōza gendai nihon shakai no kōzō henka (A Course on the structural change of modern Japanese society) (in Japanese). 2. Tōkyō: Yūhikaku. ISBN 978-4-641-07172-8. OCLC 833222266. chapter title: "Family Transformation and Problems around Women" (「家族の変容と婦人問題」, "Kazoku no henyō to fujin-mondai")
  • Kanehira, Teruko, ed. (1993). Danjo kyōdō shakai no sōzō [Creation of a society men and women collaborating]. 21-seiki no chihō jichi senryaku (in Japanese). 11. Kanehira, Teruko; Kitamura, Haruka; Tanaka, Masao; Ogino, Atsuko (panelists). Tōkyō: Gyōsei. OCLC 607133118. chapter title: "Panel discussion: Chief Executive Posts in Political Administration and Women" (「座談会 首長職と女性」, "Zadankai: Kubichō-shoku to josei")
  • Committee on Equality of Both Sexes, Japan Bar Association, ed. (2007). "Dai 2-bu: dai 1-shō: 2-setsu 3; Bengoshi kara Ashiya shichō e no tenshin to hanshin-Awaji daishinsai". Josei bengoshi no ayumi: 3-nin kara 3000-nin e [History of a Female Lawyer: From 3 to 3000] (in Japanese). Akashi shoten. ISBN 978-4-7503-2511-8. chapter title: Part 2, Section 1, sub-section 2: 3 An attorney's path to the Mayor of Ashiya, and the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake (第2部: 第1章: 2節; 3 弁護士から芦屋市長への転身と阪神淡路大震災, Dai 2-bu: dai 1-shō: 2-setsu; 3 Bengoshi kara Ashiya shichō e no tenshin to Hanshin-Awaji daishinsai)


  1. ^ a b Ueda, Erina (27 October 2008). "Mizukara michi wo kirihiraku: josei no shakai-shinshutu no paionia, Kitamura Harue-shi" [Opening the Road by her own hands: Harue Kitamura, the Pioneer of Women's Social Advancement]. ritsumei.ac.jp (in Japanese). Ritsumeikan University. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Quake Sways Election Bid of Japan's Only Woman Mayor : Politics: Her opponent claims events show she can't handle bureaucrats or crisis management". Los Angeles Times. 1995-04-01. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  3. ^ O'Connor, Karen (2010). Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook. Sage Publications. ISBN 9781483305417.
  4. ^ Kuriki, Chieko (May 5, 1991). "MOTHERS ELECT JAPAN`S FIRST WOMAN MAYOR". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  5. ^ "First female mayor to call it a day". The Japan Times Online. 2003-01-18. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  6. ^ "Dai 15-kai tōitsu chihō-sen shirīzu (3) konki kagiri de intai suru Hyōgo-ken Ashiya shichō kitamura harue-san" [The 15th Unified Local Election Series (3): Decided to retire with the current term: Harue Kitamura, Mayor of Ashiya, Hyogo]. Women' s perspective (in Japanese). The Ichikawa Fusae Memorial Association (547): 5-7. April 2003. ISSN 1345-7098.
  7. ^ "Alumni Association NEWS : Our alumni as the awardee of Spring, 2004 has been announced!! — Harue Kitamura, decorated (class of '52)". ritsumei.ac.jp. Ritsumeikan University. 30 April 2004.
Koroku Yamamura
April 1987–April 1991
Mayor of Ashiya, Hyogo
15th, 16th, 17th:
April 1991–June 2003
Ken Yamanaka [ja]
June 2003–June 2019