Marutei Tsurunen

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Marutei Tsurunen
Member of the House of Councillors
In office
8 February 2002 – 28 July 2013
Preceded by Kyosen Ōhashi
Personal details
Born Martti Turunen
(1940-04-30) 30 April 1940 (age 78)
Lieksa, Finland
Political party Democratic Party
Website Official website

Marutei Tsurunen (ツルネン・マルテイ or 弦念 丸呈, Tsurunen Marutei, born 30 April 1940) is the first foreign-born Japanese of European origin serving as a member of the Diet of Japan.[1] He is a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, where he serves as Director General of the International Department. He served in the House of Councillors from 2001 to 2013.[2]


Tsurunen was born Martti Turunen in the village of Jaakonvaara in Lieksa, Finland. Near the end of Continuation War, Tsurunen (then four years old) and his family were among the few survivors of a Soviet partisan attack on the village.[3]

In 1967, at the age of 27, Tsurunen traveled to Japan as a lay missionary of the Lutheran Church, accompanied by his first wife, who was also a Finn (they later divorced).[4] Having decided to become Japanese, he gained his Japanese citizenship in 1979.[5] He moved to Yugawaramachi in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1981.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

He first ran for city council in 1992 in Yugawaramachi and won a seat, coming in fourth place with 1,051 votes.[citation needed]

He ran for a seat in the Upper House for Kanagawa without party backing in 1995. He received 339,484 votes, losing a seat to the Socialist candidate who won 371,889 votes. He ran again in 1998 and took 502,712, just 8,000 short of winning a seat. In 2000, he ran as a candidate of the Democratic Party of Japan for a seat in the Lower House, and again in 2001 for a seat in the Upper House, both unsuccessfully. However, in 2002, a person resigned from the house and he won a seat by "kuriage" replacement, by which he took the seat because he had the largest number of votes after the winner.[citation needed]

He was directly reelected in 2007 with 242,742 votes, the 6th-highest in his party, but lost his seat in the 2013 election after garnering only 82,858 votes (12th).[2]


  1. ^ Shōkei Arai (新井将敬, 1948-1998) was Japan's first naturalized parliamentarian, but he was born in Osaka and gave up his Korean citizenship at age 16.[citation needed]
  2. ^ a b "Ol' blue eyes isn't back: Tsurunen's tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ - The Japan Times". The Japan Times.
  3. ^ Brooke, James (8 March 2002). "Yugawaramachi Journal; Japan's New Insider Speaks Up for the Outsiders". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Japan Zone (2008). Tsurunen Marutei".
  5. ^ Strom, Stephanie (12 July 1998). "Foreign, Yet Japanese, and Aiming for Parliament". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-19.

External links[edit]