Junichiro Koizumi retired today as the Japanese PM, after 5 years in charge of the world’s second biggest economy. His time has been one of the more successful of recent years. It has seen the ending of the Japanese recession and the country has moved forward politically. Its a great achievement though he promised so much more. Breaking old habits and traditions is near impossible in Japan and while, Koizumi will be criticisied for failing to deliver those grand changes, he did start the ball rolling and allowed the younger generation who have grown up in this recession a chance to get involved. Politically Japan should see great changes over the next few decades as the war generation and baby boomers die out and the young who have grown up with economic problems provide more flexible answers.
Koizumi was seen as a young PM at 59 but his successor is a mere 52, a whipper snapper in Japan, but like many, he is born into politics and has worked there for 34 years now. He has the chance to be a great PM, with a growing economy and an empowered populace. Great issues lie ahead, the pension crush and foreign policy. But Japan is more flexible now and has always had it’s liberal side. There is room for all thoughts and Japanese companies are again leading the way in many sectors. I’ll be back check to someday.
One curious bit of information about Koizumi is this. He is unmarried, very rare in a modern politician. But he has been married and has three sons. And that’s where it gets weird. He had a political wedding but tradition got in the way. Read below…
Koizumi married 21-year-old Keio student Kayoko Miyamoto in 1978, having proposed to her one day after their first date (which had been arranged by Koizumi’s political aides). The ceremony at the Tokyo Prince Hotel was attended by about 2,500 people, including Fukuda (then Prime Minister), and featured a wedding cake shaped like the National Diet Building.
The marriage ended in divorce in 1982. Miyamoto was unhappy with her lifestyle and Koizumi did not see Miyamoto as a viable political wife. After this divorce, Koizumi vowed never to marry again, saying that divorce consumed ten times more energy than marriage.
Two of his three sons (Kotaro and Shinjiro Koizumi) were kept in Koizumi’s custody and raised by one of Koizumi’s sisters. Although Miyamoto claims that she was to be allowed to see her two sons once they reach the age of 16, this did not happen and she has not been able to see them since the divorce. The youngest, Yoshinaga Miyamoto, a student at Keio University, was born following the divorce and has never met Koizumi. This third son is known to have attended one of Koizumi’s rallies, but was also turned away when trying to meet his father by attending his grandmother’s funeral. Such situations are relatively common in Japan, where the law does not provide for joint custody by divorced couples.
I doubt that situation would happen again today to such a degree but there is a deep sadness to the story.