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Renho 1-3.jpg
Member of the House of Councillors
Assumed office
11 July 2004
Constituency Tokyo
Personal details
Born Hsieh Lien-fang (謝蓮舫)
(1967-11-28) 28 November 1967 (age 48)
Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Political party Democratic Party of Japan
Spouse(s) Nobuyuki Murata
Children Suiran and Rin (Twins)
Website Renhō's homepage

Renhō Murata (村田 蓮舫 Murata Renhō?, born 28 November 1967), commonly known mononymously as Renhō (蓮舫 Renhō?), is a Taiwanese Japanese journalist and politician who is a member of the Upper House of the Diet of Japan. She was a member of the Noda Cabinet, serving as Minister for Government Revitalisation.


Born Hsieh Lien-fang (謝 蓮舫 Sha Renhō?, Pinyin: Xiè Liánfǎng) in Tokyo to a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, 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. Born as a citizen of 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 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 Chinese pronunciation of her kanji 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 (ja:事業仕分け) of the Government Revitalization Unit (ja:行政刷新会議 Gyōsei Sasshin Kaigi?) 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 special account budgets (ja:特別会計?) called "maizokin" (lit. buried treasure).[7] She lost her seat in Cabinet in a subsequent reshuffle, but was retained as a special advisor to the Prime Minister.

In the 11 July 2010, Upper House election, she garnered a record 1,710,734 constituency votes, the most ever.[8]

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.


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.[9] Mark Chen, Taiwanese politician and former Secretary-General of the Office of the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is her distant relative.[10] She lives in Tokyo with her husband, children, and mother.[3]


  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 Japanese politician with roots in Taiwan latest media darling, Taipei Times, 16 August 2004
    President wants Ren Hō to be bridge, Taipei Times, 2004/08/17
  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. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Hongo, Jun, "Renho beats drum against waste", Japan Times, 10 June 2010, p. 2.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Japan's fiscal firebrand". Japan Times. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 
  10. ^ 「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
Tomiko Okazaki
Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety
Preceded by
Yukio Edano
Minister of State for Government Revitalization
Preceded by
Kōichirō Genba
Minister of State for Civil Service Reform
Succeeded by
Kansei Nakano