The current Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the first woman to hold that office. Born January 14th 1944, she's the daughter of former prime minister Kakuei Tanaka and a graduate of Waseda university.

As a member of Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet, she may play a key role in his plans to reform the LDP and Japan's political system. Even before being appointed foreign minister, Tanaka had caused her share of scandals by being brash, outspoken and unhesitant to offend the old guard of backroom powermongers and beaurocrats, and this has only intensified now. She makes a lot of enemies this way, but the public and the press love her for it and her popularity rivals that of Koizumi himself. Whether this popularity persistes and is enough to make her resistant against the LDP's faction leaders' enmity remains to be seen.

Update 2002-01-29
Today, Mrs. Tanaka was fired by the prime minister, with no particular reason given. Apparently, her enemies' number added up to more than her popularity.
From The Japan Times(

Makiko Tanaka
Age: 57

Sharp-tongued Makiko Tanaka enjoys immense public popularity and is often cited in opinion polls as a top candidate for prime minister.

Her support for Junichiro Koizumi in the LDP presidential race is said to have helped him to garner wider public support, resulting in shaking the faction that traces its roots to the group established by her father, the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.

After studying at a high school in Philadelphia, she entered Waseda University. Upon graduation, she joined a theatrical company hoping to become an actress, but gave up her dream due to fierce opposition from her father.

She devoted herself to caring for her father after he suffered a stroke in 1985, and became determined to work as a politician to improve the nation's elderly care system.

Her popularity has also helped her husband, Naoki Tanaka, an LDP Upper House member, make a Diet comeback from the Niigata prefectural constituency after being beaten at home in neighboring Fukushima Prefecture, where he served as a Lower House member for three terms.

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