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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #175: November 17, 2003

Japan's Margaret Thatcher quits after poll fiasco

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Japan's Margaret Thatcher quits after poll fiasco"
(Julian Ryall) The Scotsman


The title, as well as the body of the short article, is apparently intended to be a tribute to Ms Doi, who just resigned as the leader of the Social Democratic Party due to the appalling loss at the general election a week ago, bringing down the number of their representatives in the lower house from eighteen to six. But the article seems to miss the target by a significant margin.

There is no doubt as to Ms Doi's impressive biography, beginning as a legal scholar specialized in Japanese Constitution, who almost accidentally, as explained in the article, ran in an election to win a seat in the diet in 1969. Since then, she had become the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, and led The Socialist Party, the predecessor to the present SDP, at the time the largest political party in the diet only next to LDP.

Nevertheless, there are a few parts of the article which may raise eyebrows of a number of Japanese readers.

First and utmost is whether Ms Doi is comparable to Ms Thatcher. Ms Doi has never led a government, and her political stance is, as written in the party's name she led, a socialist who has until recently claimed North Korea to be a realized utopia dedicated to Marxism. Perhaps Ms Doi herself could feel insulted by being ranked with a hard line capitalist such as Ms Thatcher who revived UK economy through advocating market oriented industry led by private entities.

Another point might be where the writer says that Ms Doi did more for women in the male-dominated world of Japanese politics. Ms Doi is unique in the true sense of the word, in both her determination and perhaps luck, in gaining such a distinguished position as the speaker of the House of Representatives. So unique indeed that there seems to be no other stateswoman who could come close to her capacity. But there is no conclusive argument as to Japanese politics being dominated by males more so than its counterpart in, say, the US. In fact, political arena is arguably one of the most gender-free sectors of Japan. One reason noted is that women could utilize their charm to entice the voters in ways no man is able to. By saying so it is not intended to be a gender discriminatory comment. But if it sounds like it, it must have been inherited from the tone of the original article. A very unique idea to list unique Ms Doi and Ms Thatcher together, but the concept may be too unique for the people to apprehend.

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