Foreign Press Thinks Makiko Tanaka Will Be Back
John de Boer (University of Tokyo & GLOCOM Platform)
The resignation of Makiko Tanaka from the Lower House of the Japanese parliament was reported in the international press in a manner that left several suspicions lurking in the air. While the resignation came as a surprise to almost everyone, news reports seem to indicate that there could be a comeback story sometime soon. As an analyst quoted in a Reuters article stated, "its hard to imagine her (Tanaka) going quietly back to ordinary life" (Elaine Lies, Aug. 9).
While news sources report that Tanaka did not give any reason for her resignation to the speaker of the Lower House, Hinihiko Ishizuka, the motivation behind her move was obvious. She had been suspended from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for two years in June for failing to cooperate in a probe of her alleged misuse of public funds. As a result, her political life as a lawmaker with the LDP was thought to be effectively over, at least for the short term. This left her with no option but to resign. Tanaka's own words as quoted by Lies were that the sanction, "made it impossible for me to do my job as a lawmaker. There would have been no meaning in my remaining".
Despite her resignation coinciding with an investigation into a corruption scandal that had her paying staff who were not on her official payroll with public funds, her image in the international press remains clean. Every article that appeared in the wake of her resignation characterized her as a reformer who tried to rid the LDP of corruption and pork-barrel politics. They still see her as the only Foreign Minister who tried to clean up the Foreign Ministry. As far as the international press is concerned, Tanaka's image is still in tact and fit for action.
So what does the foreign press think her next move will be? Three possibilities have been mentioned. The first is to form a new party. The second is to join the opposition and the third, which the media seems to find most interesting, is the grooming of her son, Yuichiro Tanaka, to succeed her in the family's political dynasty. Regardless, the consensus abroad is that Tanaka will be back in some way, shape and form.
- Japan's former Foreign Minister Resigns from Parliament", the Associated Press and Dow Jones, 9 August 2002
- Elaine Lies, "Ex-Japan Foreign Minister Tanaka Resigns as MP", Reuters, 9 August 2002
- Mari Yamaguchi, "Japan's Ex-Foreign Minister Resigns", the Associated Press, 9 August 2002