Rising star Shinjiro Koizumi to be tested in new Cabinet

New Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi is rated by voters as the lawmaker they would most like to see as prime minister.
New Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi is rated by voters as the lawmaker they would most like to see as prime minister.

TOKYO • Japan's new Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of charismatic former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, is regularly rated by voters as the lawmaker they would most like to see in the top job when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe steps down.

Mr Koizumi, 38, became the third-youngest lawmaker to join a post-World War II Japanese Cabinet when Mr Abe announced a reshuffle yesterday.

The youngest Cabinet member was Ms Yuko Obuchi, who was 34 when she was named minister in charge of measures to deal with the declining birthrate in 2008 by then Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Mr Koizumi, popularly referred to as Shinjiro to distinguish him from his father, grabbed headlines last month with news that he would marry soon and become a father.

He announced he would wed Ms Christel Takigawa, 42, a French-Japanese television personality known as the face of Tokyo's successful bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

As environment minister, Mr Koizumi could be in an awkward spot, given Mr Abe's commitment to nuclear power. The elder Koizumi became a harsh critic of atomic energy after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

But Mr Koizumi does share some of Mr Abe's conservative views - he has paid respects at Tokyo's controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead.

Mr Koizumi has a master's degree in political science from New York's Columbia University.

He has suggested in the past that taking a high-profile post too soon was risky, but some who know him said he might not want to wait too long before seeking premiership.

 

"He's a young guy in a hurry," said one political source speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mr Abe's tenure as Liberal Democratic Party leader, which ensures the premiership if the LDP stays in power, ends in September 2021.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2019, with the headline 'Rising star Koizumi to be tested in new Cabinet'. Print Edition | Subscribe