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Japan

The Woman Who May Succeed Shinzo Abe In Japan

Tomomi Inada may be a more fervent Japanese nationalist than current Prime Minister Abe. She was in Washington this week to meet top officials.

Inada has risen quickly through the ranks.
Inada has risen quickly through the ranks.

TOKYO — During her visit to the United States this week, Tomomi Inada has had a packed agenda with top American officials.

The trip by the 56-year-old head of the the Policy Research Council of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is also the first visit to Washington by a government or ruling party official since the passage of the security-related laws that could allow Japan's military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II.

With Inada's visit coming at a time certain to draw attention, some within the LDP have speculated that she has begun thinking about running for the leadership of the party after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe"s current term ends.

The people Inada on this week's agenda have included David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs; former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Inada gave particular importance in her itinerary to the address on Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. To give the speech in English, a language she is not fluent in, Inada was tutored by a U.S. instructor and was intensively practicing her pronunciation and other elements even while traveling in her car.

"I'll seek understanding for the Abe Cabinet's security policies, as well as for its economic policies, about which there is high interest in the United States," Inada said before the speech.

Inada holds similar opinions to Abe and has been treated especially warmly, being awarded such posts as state minister in charge of administrative reform in Abe's Cabinet and head of the LDP Policy Research Council.

Members of the Hosoda faction, to which Inada belongs, have started to say she is a future candidate for prime minister and even Inada herself has recently begun making such public statements as "All politicians want to be prime minister."

However, there is also rising envy within the LDP of Inada, who has been elected only four times as a House of Representatives member, but already served as a cabinet minister and in one of the top three posts in the party.

One veteran LDP lawmaker spoke coolly of her current trip, saying: "Ms. Inada is viewed in the United States as a historical revisionist. If she can't dispel these concerns, her "post-Abe" opportunity will fade away."

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