With a new boss appointed to Ichigaya within hours of Kyuma’s resignation, one wonders whether they will also be airbrushing Kyuma out of pictures from the past nine months.
It will be curious to see whether Koike will grow into the ministry position. She entered the cabinet secretariat under Abe as national security adviser in a move widely regarded as signifying the presidentialization of the Kantei — and then vanished. Sure, she was sent abroad on a few trips, but in retrospect it seems that her appointment as an adviser to the prime minister was a sinecure that kept her in the loop on defense policy but did not give her significant responsibilities.
Koike is known as a “wandering bird of the political world.” Trained as an Arabist in Cairo, she entered politics in 1992 as an Upper House proportional representation candidate in Hosokawa Morihiro’s Japan New Party. The following year in the election that ultimately chased the LDP from power, she was elected to the Lower House from Hyogo Prefecture’s second district. After the breakdown of the Hosokawa-Hata coalitions, Koike broke off into Ozawa’s New Frontier Party (and after that, Liberal Party). From the Liberal Party, she veered off into the Conservative Party — and finally in late December 2002 she joined the LDP. She was quickly recruited into the Koizumi Cabinet as environment minister, where she developed the Cool Biz concept.
Her final migration — this one literal — was shifting electoral districts from Hyogo to Tokyo as one of Koizumi’s assassins to defeat postal reform opponent Kobayashi Kouki.
Will bringing a mediagenic Koizumi assassin into the cabinet staunch the bleeding and make the people forget Kyuma? She certainly has her work cut out for her. Just when the LDP thought that the cabinet’s falling popularity had bottomed out, Asahi issues a poll that shows that it has fallen to 28%. If she cannot help stabilize the government’s position, she may not be in office long enough to leave her mark on Japanese defense policy.