Model and TV journalist elected to breathe fresh life into Japan’s opposition

A former model and TV anchorwoman was chosen as the new leader of Japan’s main opposition party on Thursday, as it looks to reboot its fortunes after four years in the political wilderness. The telegenic Renho Murata, who usually goes by the single name Renho, trounced her opponents - including a former foreign minister - to take the helm of the struggling Democratic Party. The 48-year-old, who is half-Taiwanese, triumphed despite revelations that she had never renounced her Taiwan citizenship - it is not permitted to hold dual nationality in Japan. She pledged to revive the fortunes of her centre-left party, which has lost ground to Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition.

I’ll stand at the forefront of our fight to rebuild the party to win an election again


Her election is remarkable in a country where both women and those of mixed race have never found it easy to be accepted. Last week a half-Indian beauty queen was crowned Miss Japan - only a year after a black woman claimed the title, and faced an ugly backlash on social media. As a journalist, Renho, earned the nickname Hissatsu (shoot-to-kill) for her style of grilling bureaucrats over public waste. She made her name reporting from the quake-devastated city of Kobe in 1995 and entered parliament in 2004. However, she also courted controversy by in 2010 when she posed for a magazine shoot inside parliament for Vogue Nippon.

I hope (Renho) will carry out specific policy debate constructively

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga