A political dynast is favoured to be Japan’s next prime minister

May 22, 2019

GLANCE AT THE members of the Diet and this much is clear: Japanese politics is a business for old men. The average age of a member of parliament is around 55, and prime ministers tend to be even older than that. So it is striking that people are talking about a 38-year-old, Shinjiro Koizumi (still a man, of course), as a potential successor to Shinzo Abe, the incumbent prime minister, who must step down by 2021 according to the rules of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Mr Koizumi is the son of a prominent former LDP prime minister, and, like many MPs, won the seat his father vacated when he retired from politics. In the decade since he was elected, however, he has made a name for himself in his own right. He has charisma and is a good orator. It doesn’t hurt that Mr Koizumi is fodder for glossy magazines thanks to his film-star looks (his brother is an actor).

Mr Koizumi has been trying to show he has substance, not just star appeal, even though he has never had a job in the cabinet. His most important role in the government to date has been monitoring the reconstruction effort after the Tohoku earthquake in 2011—a task he is said to have done well. He is also an enthusiastic advocate of reforming health care and pensions, a step he says might help Japan get over its gloom about its ageing...

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