Hinamatsuri Girls’/Dolls’ Day and International Women’s Day which fall on the 3rd and 8th of March respectively and Women’s History Month make March a time to take stock of some vibrant women who strive to make our lives on this planet better every day. On my recent trip to Tokyo, I was reminded of the lesser-known accomplishments of the current Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike – that for example, in Governor Koike’s early professional life, she had left the prestigious Kangaku University in Nishinomiya Japan to study Arabic at the American University in Cairo. After graduating top of her class, she worked first as an Arabic translator and then as a journalist, interviewing iconic political figures such as Muammar Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat. Yuriko Koike’s journalism culminated in a role as a news anchor for which she ultimately won a broadcaster award in 1990.
Her succeeding political career is more familiar. Koike served as Minister of the Environment in Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet and Minister of Defense in the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet. She was elected Governor of Tokyo on July 31st, 2016, and again in 2020. In her service as Governor, Koike cut down waitlist times to children’s daycare, introduced the idea of a carbon tax levy, and implemented her idea of jisa biz, literally time-lag business, to stagger working hours to alleviate morning rush hour and promote a healthier work-life balance not just for women but men, too, recognizing that the physical and mental health of men impacts women and vice versa. All this in 2017, before the pandemic hit and forced us all to consider our own forms of jisa biz.
Smart thinking from a woman fighting for a better socioeconomic world for all Tokyoites, which today, by virtual association, includes all humans around the world, and maybe even dolls and robots created in our likeness. Happy Hinamatsuri Girls’/Dolls’ Day and International Women’s Day.