TOKYO (REUTERS) - The son of Japan's former leader Junichiro Koizumi and a popular choice for prime minister in his own right set the country afire on Wednesday (Aug 7) 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 would wed Ms Christel Takigawa, a French-Japanese television 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 2018. 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 added.
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 Japan's traditional "omotenashi" hospitality 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 Koizumi regularly tops polls as the most suitable successor to current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In a May survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily, he led a field of six potential candidates, with an overall 29 per cent approval rating and 32 per cent among women.
"She already looks like the wife of a prime minister," a user called MoruMoru tweeted.
Asked about the reaction of his famous and somewhat quirky father, who divorced his mother when she was pregnant with their third child and never remarried, Mr Koizumi said he had given his blessing - sort of.
"He said it's something you should do at least once," Mr Koizumi was quoted as saying on Yahoo News.