Here’s this week’s Media Mix about the marriage announcement of Shinjiro Koizumi and Christel Takigawa. Shinjiro’s situation is not that unusual in Japanese politics. There are many dynastic lines in government, both national and local, as there are in many other countries. Granted, show biz seems to breed more nepotism than politics owing to the dynamics of popularity and commerce, but once a family finds a way to monetize their political power on a local level they hold on to that power with all their might.
The Koizumi family’s heritage goes back three generations. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s grandfather, Matajiro, was the first in his family to gain public office, and made it as high as minister of communications in the cabinet. However, it wasn’t just a matter of his having a male heir to continue holding on to the family’s Yokosuka constituency. His daughter, Yoshie, fell in love with a political aide in the government (not her father’s, apparently), and they eloped because her parents forbade the union. Once the deed was done, however, Matajiro made the best of it and allowed his new son-in-law, Junya, to change his name to Koizumi, thus becoming an omukosan. It was a fortuitous decision. Junya was handsome and won election easily to the lower house. The couple then produced Junichiro, whose own approach to continuing the line was much less romantic, as pointed out in the column. The woman he married was just out of college and according to a book by Taeko Ishi (about dynastic families), the new wife was effectively shut out of the family, which was and still is mainly managed by Junichiro’s sisters. She wasn’t even allowed to eat meals with the family (which is quite large, including in-laws and children, all living within the same compound). After she divorced Junichiro and his mother died, she showed up to the funeral to pay her respects and was prevented from coming into contact with her ex-husband or other members of the immediate family. She had to wait in a separate room with her youngest son, whom, reportedly, Junichiro has met only once. This is the man Shinjiro wants to take after as a father. God help Christel Takigawa, unless, of course, she’s already in on the plan.