Yoshihiko Noda

Yoshihiko Noda is the current Prime Minister of Japan, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, and a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet.

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Yoshihiko Noda (野田 佳彦, Noda Yoshihiko?, born 20 May 1957) is the current Prime Minister of Japan, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and a member of the House of Representatives (lower house) in the Diet (national legislature). He was named to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan as a result of a runoff vote against Banri Kaieda in his party,[1] and was formally appointed by the Emperor on 2 September 2011.

Early life

Noda was born in Funabashi, Chiba on 20 May 1957, the son of a member of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.[2] Unlike many prominent Japanese politicians, Noda has no family connections to Nagatachō. His parents were too poor to pay for a wedding reception.[3][4]

Noda graduated from Chiba Prefectural Funabashi Senior High School in 1975. Then, Noda enrolled in Waseda University School of Political Sciences and Economics in 1980 and was later accepted into the prestigious Matsushita Institute. This institution was founded by Konosuke Matsushita (the founder of Panasonic) to groom future civic leaders of Japan. While attending the Matsushita Institute, Noda read household gas meters as a part-time job in his native Chiba Prefecture, partially in order to get to know his future constituents better in preparation for a run for office.[5] He was elected to the assembly of Chiba Prefecture for the first time in 1987 at the age of 29.[6]

Diet career

Noda with Singapore Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

In 1993, he was elected to the Diet for first time representing Chiba's Lower House District #4 as a member of the now-defunct Japan New Party. He later joined the DPJ and served as its Diet affairs chief as well as head of the party's public relations office. Noda acted as senior vice finance minister when the DPJ won control of the Diet in September 2009.[6]

In June 2010, Noda was appointed as Minister of Finance by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was also the previous Minister of Finance. Noda is known as a reformist and has led a DPJ intraparty group critical of ex-DPJ Secretary General Ichirō Ozawa.[6]

Upon assuming the post of finance minister, Noda, a fiscal conservative, expressed his determination to slash Japan's deficit and rein in gross public debt. In January 2011, for the first time in six years, Noda's finance ministry intervened in the foreign exchange market and spent 2.13 trillion yen to purchase dollars in order to rein in the yen’s spiraling appreciation.

Noda is said to have close relations with the United States, and has said that "China's rapid military buildup pose a serious regional risk, and stressed the importance of the US-Japan security alliance."[7]

After Kan's resignation in August 2011, Noda stood as a candidate in the party election to replace him.[8][9] He won the runoff vote against Banri Kaieda in the leadership election, meaning he would almost certainly become the next prime minister and inherit the challenge of rebuilding from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[1][10] During the party caucus making the leadership decision, Noda made a 15-minute speech in which he summarized his political career by comparing himself to dojo loach, a kind of bottom-feeding fish. Paraphrasing a poem by Mitsuo Aida, he said, "I'll never be a goldfish in a scarlet robe, but like a loach in muddy waters. I'll work hard for the people, to move politics forward."[5] Subsequently, he has been widely[citation needed] dubbed "Prime Minister Loach" in the Japanese media, and his cabinet is called the "Loach Cabinet".[11]

Position on war responsibility

Poster in Toyonaka

In October 2005, Noda criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for his position on Japanese class A war criminals as "war criminals". However, Noda supported Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine.[12] On 15 August 2011 —the anniversary of the year for the Surrender of Japan in World War II, he said that Japan's class A war criminals convicted by the Allies were not legally war criminals under his view.[13] Since becoming prime minister he has stated that his position on this issue will follow the standard set by previous administrations, and that he does not wish to alter Japan's close relationship with China and Korea.[14]

Prime Minister

Noda with former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

In his first speech as Prime Minister on 2 September 2011, Noda confirmed that the Japanese government will continue to phase out nuclear power, by not building new nuclear power plants nor extending the life spans of outdated ones; however, nuclear power plants which are currently sitting idle in the wake of the Fukushima disaster will be restarted in order to help Japan's immediate demands for energy.[15]

Since becoming Prime Minister, Noda's most important initiative has been the inclusion of Japan in planning the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, which he announced on 11 November 2011.[16] This has proved controversial and is widely discussed in Japanese society. Otherwise, he has engaged himself in assisting Japan's economic recovery from the Tohoku earthquake.

During efforts to increase Japan's consumption tax from 5% to 10% Noda said that he "staked his political life" on the passage of the law.[17] The bill passed through the lower house of the diet on June 26, 2012[18] and passed the upper house on August 10, 2012.[19] On 10 August 2012, Noda survived a no-confidence vote after proposing a five-percent increase in the sales tax.[20] During negotiations for the tax, Noda promised to call an early election "soon".[21] Afterwards, he stated that he had planned to quit as a lawmaker if he had been unable to pass the consumption tax increase.[22]

On 24 August 2012, Noda went on live television and vowed to appeal to the international community to support Japan’s claims to sovereignty over islands at the center of separate disputes with South Korea and China.[23]

Speaking on the eve of a review of monetary policy by the Bank of Japan, Noda vowed to work with the central bank more closely to support the economy, using terms employed in the past to pressure the central bank into easing policy.[24]

On November 14, 2012 Noda stated that the diet would be dissolved on November 16, 2012, and the election would be held on December 16, 2012. Given the DPJ's poor figures in the polls. many members of the DPJ were opposed to this,[25] including General Secretary Azuma Koshiishi, and there was talk among some DPJ members of trying to oust Noda before the next election.[26]

DPJ leadership

On 21 September 2012, Noda won the DPJ's leadership bi-annual election[27] by 818 points out of 1,231. He then said: "I would like to beef up our teamwork so that we can shift the DPJ once again to make it a fighting force that can serve Japan. [I promise to] sweat with all of you to make a vigorous Japan together. The real reform Japan needs is decisive politics when we face issues that need to be decided." His result was seen as more certain after Environment Minister Goshi Hosono stepped back from standing in the election. He defeated former agriculture ministers Michihiko Kano and Hirotaka Akamatsu, as well as former internal affairs minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi.[28][29]

Personal life

Noda has been married to his wife Hitomi since 1992 and has 2 sons.[30] Noda is a fan of martial arts and professional wrestling. He has a black belt in judo.[5]


  1. Yoshihiko Noda wins Japan leadership race, BBC, 29 August 2011.
  2. "Profile: Yoshihiko Noda, a fiscal hawk flies into Japan's top post". People's Daily. 29 August 2011. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90777/7583014.html. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  3. Sakamaki, Sachiko; Ujikane, Keiko (29 August 2011). "Japan’s Noda Faces Short Honeymoon". Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-29/noda-elected-leader-of-japan-ruling-party-to-succeed-kan-as-prime-minister.html. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  4. Hongo, Jun, "Noda a grappler, wears many hats", Japan Times, 31 August 2011, p. 3.
  5. Hayashi, Yuka (2011-08-29). "Japan's Noda: Low-Key on Domestic Issues, Controversial Abroad". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904199404576537571252107278.html. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
  6. Japan Times, "Cabinet Profiles: Kan's lineup", 9 June 2010, p. 4.
  7. Doubts already emerging over Japan's new PM | Television New Zealand | News, Sport, Weather, TV ONE, TV2 | TVNZ | WORLD News. TVNZ (29 August 2011). Retrieved on 26 June 2012.
  8. "Noda declares DPJ election candidacy, calls for fiscal discipline". Mainichi Newspapers Co. Ltd.. 27 August 2011. http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110827p2g00m0dm012000c.html. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  9. Johnston, Eric, "Contenders' backgrounds", Japan Times, 28 August 2011, p. 2.
  10. "Yoshihiko Noda elected Japan's new PM". Indiavision news. 29 August 2011. http://www.indiavision.com/news/article/topnews/223635/yoshihiko-noda-elected-japans-new-pm/.
  11. example from Yomiuri[dead link]
  12. "ポスト菅・身上書:野田佳彦財務相 教育、靖国で保守強調" (in Japanese). Mainichi.jp. Mainichi Shimbun. 18 August 2011. http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/minshudaihyousen/postkan/news/20110818ddm005010112000c.html. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  13. "S. Korea blasts Noda's war criminal remarks". The Japan Times. 17 August 2011. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110817a2.html. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  14. "「A級戦犯」発言で軌道修正=野田新代表" (in Japanese). jiji. Jiji Press. 30 August 2011. http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=pol_30&rel=j7&k=2011083000355. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  15. Tabuchi, Hiroko (2 September 2011). "Japan’s New Prime Minister Vows Gradual Nuclear Phaseout". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/03/world/asia/03japan.html. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  16. Wallace, Rick (12 November 2011). "Trade boost for Australia as Japan agrees to free-trade negotiations". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/trade-boost-for-australia-as-japan-agrees-to-free-trade-negotiations/story-fn59nm2j-1226193214788. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  17. Japan Times Noda stakes his administration, political life on hiking sales tax March 25, 2012
  18. Japan Times Lower House passes bill to double sales tax June 27, 2012
  19. Japan Times Upper House passes bill to hike sales levy August 11, 2012
  20. Westlake, Adam (10 August 2012). "Prime Minister Noda survives opponents’ no-confidence vote". The Japan Daily Press. http://japandailypress.com/prime-minister-noda-survives-opponents-no-confidence-vote-108788. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  21. Harlan, Chico (18 August 2012). "In Japan, new taxes levy political toll on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-japan-too-new-taxes-levy-political-toll/2012/08/17/c41effb0-e6b6-11e1-8f62-58260e3940a0_story.html. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  22. Daily Yomiuri Noda intended to quit if tax bills had failed November 13, 2012
  23. "Japan Places Pressure on South Korea Amid Islets Dispute". The New York Times. 24 August 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/world/asia/japan-vows-to-press-claims-over-disputed-islands.html?_r=1. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  24. Japan PM signals election can wait, defies opposition
  25. Daily Yomiuri Noda sets dissolution for Fri. November 15, 2012
  26. Daily Yomiuri Disgruntled DPJ members aim to unseat PM / Dissent grows as lawmakers voice frustration, helplessness at Standing Officers Council meeting November 15, 2012
  27. "JAPAN'S NODA TO REMAIN PM AFTER RULING PARTY VOTE". Associated Press. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-newsalert-91. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  28. "Japan's PM re-elected ruling party leader". Al Jazeera. September 2009. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2012/09/20129217334147318.html. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  29. "Noda rewards political allies in Cabinet reshuffle". The Asahi Shimbun. 1 October 2012. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201210010084. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  30. Profile on his official website (jp).