People : Makiko Tanaka
Thursday, September 23, 2004 Posted: 03:59 PM JST [PHOTOS]
Date of Birth: January 14 1944
Outspoken and colorful, Makiko Tanaka is extremely popular among the Japanese; in opinion polls she was for years one of the top candidates for prime minister.
Many believe it was Tanaka's support during the LDP presidential race of 2001 that helped catapult Junichiro Koizumi to the top position.
The daughter of former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, Tanaka studied for 2 years at a high school in Philadelphia, after which she entered Waseda University in 1964. Tanaka wanted to become an actress and joined a theatrical company, but her father forced her to stop.
In 1968 Tanaka married. Her husband Naoki was the son of a member of the Diet. In 1983 she campaigned on behalf of her husband and her immense popularity helped him win an LDP seat in the Lower House and later the Upper House.
After her father suffered a stroke in 1985, Tanaka took care of him full-time. This experience influenced her to improve the nation's elderly care system as a politician.
Tanaka joined the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) in 1991. Around this time she caused a sensation as the 'Whirlwind Madonna'.
In May 2001 Tanaka became Japan's first female Foreign Minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. She was however soon relieved of her post as her ministry was plagued by scandals and viscious infighting.
Keywords: people_focus political_news politics
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