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Renho Minshu 20130714.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
1 October 2016
Monarch Akihito
Prime Minister Shinzō Abe
Preceded by Katsuya Okada
President of the Democratic Party
Assumed office
1 October 2016
Preceded by Katsuya Okada
Member of the House of Councillors
Assumed office
11 July 2004
Constituency Tokyo
Minister of State for Government Revitalization
In office
8 June 2010 – 27 June 2011
Prime Minister Naoto Kan
Preceded by Yukio Edano
Succeeded by Yukio Edano
Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety
In office
14 January 2011 – 27 June 2011
Prime Minister Naoto Kan
Preceded by Tomiko Okazaki
Succeeded by Goshi Hosono
Minister of State for Government Revitalization
In office
2 September 2011 – 13 January 2012
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
Preceded by Yukio Edano
Succeeded by Katsuya Okada
Personal details
Born Hsieh Lien-fang (謝蓮舫)
(1967-11-28) 28 November 1967 (age 49)
Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japan (1985–present)
Republic of China (1967–2016)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nobuyuki Murata
Children Suiran and Rin (twins)
Residence Tokyo, Japan
Alma mater Aoyama Gakuin University
Website Renhō's homepage

Renhō Murata (村田 蓮舫, Murata Renhō, born 28 November 1967), commonly known mononymously as Renhō (蓮舫), is a Taiwanese Japanese journalist and politician who is the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Early and personal life[edit]

Born Hsieh Lien-fang (Chinese: 謝蓮舫; pinyin: Xiè Liánfǎng; Japanese pronunciation: Sha Renhō) in Tokyo to a Taiwanese father (Xiè Zhéxìn (謝哲信)) and Japanese mother (Saitō Keiko (斉藤圭子)), she studied at Aoyama Gakuin in Tokyo from kindergarten through university. She enrolled in the law faculty of Aoyama Gakuin University and graduated in 1990 with the B.L. degree in Public Law. Born as a citizen of the Republic of China (Taiwan), she did not become a citizen of Japan until 1985 when the Nationality Law was amended to allow Japanese mothers to pass Japanese nationality to their children.[1][2] She adopted her mother's surname, Saitō (斉藤), when she acquired Japanese citizenship. To avoid name confusion in her career, she began to go simply by Renhō.

After her debut as a Clarion Girl in 1988, Renhō appeared on several television and radio programs as a commentator. In 1993, she became a newscaster on TBS and TV Asahi, covering several historical events including the Great Hanshin earthquake.[3]

She was married in 1993 and studied the Chinese language at Peking University from 1995 to 1997. Renhō returned to television in 2000, anchoring and reporting on several TBS programs.[3] She reported from Taiwan during Chen Shui-bian's presidential campaign, which brought her to the attention of Taiwanese political leaders.[4] In Taiwan, she is often referred to as Lien-fang, the Standard Chinese pronunciation of her given name.


In July 2004, Renhō was elected to the House of Councillors representing Tokyo as a member of the Democratic Party of Japan. Since election, she has been heavily involved in parenting issues and policies.[3] Renhō has criticized Japan's diplomacy with China and its refusal to recognize Taiwan, stating that "Japan is too polite when dealing with China, taking a low profile" and "Taiwan is my father's country. Why isn't Taiwan a country?"[4]

Since taking office, Renhō has traveled to Taiwan several times on official and unofficial business, garnering extensive public and media attention. She is reportedly close to senior members of the Democratic Progressive Party.[4]

After the DPJ assumed the reins of government in September 2009, she received much public attention for her stern stance and direct questions to bureaucrats during special fiscal screening committees of the Government Revitalization Unit (ja) established under Yukio Hatoyama.[3][5]

In June 2010, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan appointed her as Minister for Administrative Reforms.[6] Upon taking the post, Renhō stated that she would be giving particular attention to eliminating waste in the 21 government account.[7] She lost her seat in Cabinet in a subsequent reshuffle, but was retained as a special advisor to the Prime Minister.

In the 2010 House of Councillors election, she garnered a record 1,710,734 constituency votes.[8]

She also served as a member of the Cabinet of Japan from 2010 to 2012, serving as Minister for Government Revitalisation and Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety.[citation needed]

In September 2011, she was re-appointed as State Minister of Government Revitalization (responsible for administrative reforms) in the cabinet of then prime minister Yoshihiko Noda. Her new portfolio also included responsibility for civil service reform, gender equality and Japan's declining birthrate.

She retained her seat in the 2016 House of Councillors Election.[9]

Head of the opposition party[edit]

In September 2016, she was elected as the leader of Japan's Democratic Party, making her the first woman elected as their leader and the first person with mixed ethnic heritage and dual-citizenship to head a major political party in Japan.[10][11]

Upon her election as president of the Democratic Party, The Japan Times reported on several of her policies. They reported that she is opposed to revisions of Article 9 of the Constitution, but is willing to join debates with the Liberal Democratic Party on other constitutional revisions. They also reported that she views Abenomics to be a partial success, but pushes for greater investment in education, child-rearing and nursing care. She has also ruled out forming a coalition government with the Japanese Communist Party and opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[12]


Her husband, Nobuyuki Murata (村田 信之, Murata Nobuyuki), is a journalist and a guest lecturer at several universities. In 1997, she gave birth to twins. She has two siblings, one brother who is one year older, and one brother who is two years younger.[13] Mark Chen, a Taiwanese politician and former Secretary-General of the Office of the President of the Republic of China, is a distant relative of hers.[14] She lives in Tokyo with her husband, children, and mother.[3]


Renhō in 2008
  1. ^ "Birth Registration". British Embassy in Japan. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "Renho Profile" (in Japanese). Official Renho Website. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Renho, Cabinet Profiles, Kan Cabinet (Formed 8 June 2010". The Japan Times. 
  4. ^ a b c Su, Joy (16 Aug 2004). "Japanese politician with roots in Taiwan latest media darling". Taipei Times. p. 3. 
    Huang Tai-lin (17 Aug 2004). "President wants Ren Hou to be bridge". Taipei Times. p. 3. 
  5. ^ PROFILE: Renho spotlighted in waste-cutting debate, Mainichi, 5 June 2010
  6. ^ Pesek, William (9 June 2010). "Ex-Model Gives Economic Change New Meaning". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Hongo, Jun, "Renho beats drum against waste", Japan Times, 10 June 2010, p. 2.
  8. ^ "蓮 舫 : プロフィル : 参院選2010 : 参院選 : 選挙 : YOMIURI ONLINE(読売新聞)". Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  9. ^ "DP's Renho wins third Upper House term". The Japan Times. 2016-07-10. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  10. ^ "Japan’s Democratic Party Elects Renho as New Leader". The Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Japan’s opposition party just elected Renho Murata to be its leader—the first time a woman will fill the role — Quartz". 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  12. ^ "Renhō elected leader of main opposition Democratic Party". The Japan Times. Published 15 September 2016.
    Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Japan's fiscal firebrand". Japan Times. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 
  14. ^ 「バナナ娘」蓮舫が大臣に…台湾で大々的報道. Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). 8 June 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 

External links[edit]

House of Councillors
Preceded by
Toshio Ogawa
Toshiko Hamayotsu
Miyo Inoue
Atsuo Nakamura
Councillor for Tokyo's At-large district
Served alongside: Masaharu Nakagawa, Toshio Ogawa, Yūji Sawa, Toshiko Takeya, Kōta Matsuda
Political offices
Preceded by
Yukio Edano
Minister of State for Government Revitalization
Succeeded by
Yukio Edano
Preceded by
Kōichirō Genba
Minister of State for Civil Service Reform
Succeeded by
Kansei Nakano
Preceded by
Tomiko Okazaki
Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety
Succeeded by
Goshi Hosono