Update: In the elections held on July 21, Hirofumi Takinami was voted in as a member of the upper house. Takinami won the Fukui District, garnering over 70 percent of the votes, which is the largest vote margin in the history of the district. Takinami is not only the first non-incumbent to be elected in 18 years, but also the youngest candidate ever to be elected in the district.
The forthcoming Japanese upper-house election scheduled for July 21 will determine whether the ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition, which returned to office last December, can gain a powerful majority in both houses of Japan’s parliament. But the election will also have a particular interest for the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Hirofumi Takinami, one of the LDP candidates for the upper house, running in the Fukui Prefecture, is a proud alum of Shorenstein APARC. Takinami spent two years (2009-2011) at Stanford as a visiting fellow in the Corporate Affiliates Program at Shorenstein APARC while he was employed in Japan’s Ministry of Finance. During his time here, he worked closely with APARC faculty, including former Ambassador to Japan and Shorenstein Distinguished Fellow Dr. Michael Armacost and Dr. Phillip Lipscy, on research that focused on the political economy of the financial crises in Japan and the United States. Takinami also co-authored a paper with Dr. Lipscy comparing financial crisis response in Japan and the United States, which is forthcoming in the Japanese Journal of Political Science.
Over the past few months, Takinami has been busy travelling all over Fukui Prefecture, which has received attention in recent years due to a city that shares its name with the current U.S. president, Obama. On some days Takinami might travel two hundred miles, visit more than ten different places, and meet a thousand people, but Takinami feels that the hard work will all be worthwhile.
When asked what inspired him to run for office, Takinami replied:
Starting from 1989, the ruling party of Japan has been annoyed by its weak power in the upper house. Thus, the upper house has been the center of a “political war” in Japan, which was one of the major reasons for the delayed policies of Japan during the “two lost decades.” In order to regain a decisive and progressive Japan, I determined I would run for the election.
Should Takinami be successful in his campaign, his term as a member of the upper house, or sangi-in, will be six years. Lipscy commented that Takinami’s chances for victory are very high: “Not only is Takinami well-qualified for the position, but the LDP is traditionally strong in Fukui and riding high on the popularity of Abenomics,” referring to the economic growth policies being pursued by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Should Takinami win office, we hope his experience here at Stanford will help to contribute to his goals for Japan.