Seiji   Maehara

Seiji Maehara

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs

Date of Birth: 30/04/1962
Place of Birth: Kyoto

Known as a ‘China hawk’, Seiji Maehara moved to the Foreign Ministry just as Japan-China relations are at a low. In September, a dispute with China over the Senkaku islands once again erupted after a Chinese fishing boat collided with two Japanese patrol boats. Diplomatic niceties have been put aside: Maehara termed the ongoing Chinese protests ‘hysterical’ and China’s spokesman Ma Zhouxu was ‘deeply shocked’ by such coarse language.

China appeared to throttle its exports of rare minerals, which Japan depends on for its high-tech manufacturing. Tokyo is now looking to diversify its suppliers. South Africa, once the leading rare minerals producer, stands to benefit from a shift away from Chinese exports.

Born in 1962, Maehara attended Kyoto University, graduating in law in 1987. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1993, then served six terms in the Kyoto 2nd Constituency. He played a key role in the long rise of the Democratic Party, which toppled the Liberal Democratic Party in 2009. In 2001, he became Deputy Secretary General and from September 2005 to July 2007, he was DPJ President. When the DPJ took office under Prime Minister Naoto Kan in September 2009, Maehara became Transport Minister and Secretary of State for Okinawa, where the United States maintains an unpopular military base.

Prime Minister Kan brought Maehara in to replace Katsuya Okada at the Foreign Ministry in September 2010. The DPJ has so far stuck to the LDP’s African policies, keeping the Tokyo International Conference on African Development priorities on track in spite of Japan’s economic doldrums.

Saeji Maehara, resigned 7 March 2011 after admitting he had accepted donations of 250,000 yen since 2005 from a South Korean national, in contravention of campaign laws. Takeaki Matsumoto was quickly promoted from senior vice foreign minister.