TOKYO • The son of Japan's former leader Junichiro Koizumi and a popular choice for prime minister in his own right set the country afire yesterday with news that he will marry and soon become a father.
Mr Shinjiro Koizumi, who inherited the political mantle and lustre of his father, said he will wed Ms Christel Takigawa, a French-Japanese TV personality known as the face of Tokyo's successful bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Mr Koizumi, 38, a member of the Lower House of Parliament, said the two had been dating since last year. Ms Takigawa, who is pregnant and turns 42 in October, said they had been friends for several years.
"When I'm with her, I can forget about the political battlefield, take off my armour, lay down my weapons and relax," Mr Koizumi told reporters at the Prime Minister's Office, where his father led the country from 2001 to 2006. "I can be myself. This really helps me."
He gave no hint of a wedding date and said Ms Takigawa is due to give birth early next year.
Ms Takigawa, born in Paris to a French father, worked for many years as a newscaster in Tokyo. She became a household name after speaking about "omotenashi" - Japan's traditional hospitality style - in the bid for the Tokyo games.
The announcement was the hottest topic on Japanese Twitter, with users pleased and surprised that one of Japan's most eligible young politicians was tying the knot. Mr Shinjiro Koizumi regularly tops polls as the most suitable successor to current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In a May survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily, Mr Koizumi led a field of six potential candidates with an overall 29 per cent approval rating and 32 per cent among women.
A user called MoruMoru said of Ms Takigawa in a Twitter post: "She already looks like the wife of a prime minister."
When asked about the reaction of his famous and somewhat quirky father, who divorced Mr Shinjiro Koizumi's mother when she was pregnant with their third child and never remarried, the younger Mr Koizumi said his father had given his blessing - sort of.
"He said it's something you should do at least once," Mr Shinjiro Koizumi was quoted as saying on Yahoo News.