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Politics meets porn in Japan

Sex-industry reporters? Topless lawmakers? A new day has, indeed, arrived in Tokyo's Diet.

It was Tanioka who recruited Isogai just three days before the Aug. 18 campaign season began. Japan’s electoral system awards additional seats to parties through a proportional representation system and DPJ leaders realized late in the process that they had a chance to pick up an additional seat in the Tokai bloc. According to Tanioka, Ozawa called her while she was helping candidates in Hokkaido and asked for a suggestion.

Though Isogai had held mostly temporary, irregular jobs, she had impressed Tanioka while helping organize a citizens’ expo 10 years earlier and working on Tanioka’s 2007 campaign.

“We wanted real change and we have a much more diverse DPJ than we had before,” Tanioka said. She called the media depiction of Isogai as a “freeter,” a term used for unemployed people living with their parents, “pure gossip.” Isogai lived at home to care for her parents because they had cancer, Tanioka said, and had trouble finding a full-time job because of biases from employers against women who have left the workforce.

Isogai wasn’t the only DPJ woman fending off unwanted media coverage. Mieko Tanaka, 33, a former secretary to a DPJ member, narrowly lost in the August election to former Prime Minister Yoshihiro Mori of the LDP. Nevertheless, Tanaka gained a proportional seat in the DPJ landslide. Days later, however, a men’s magazine called "Friday" revealed that Tanaka had once been a sex-industry reporter and published photos of her dressed in provocative costumes, such as a cheer-leading outfit and a traditional yukata. She also had appeared topless in an erotic film, clips of which were quickly posted on the internet.

Tanaka, besieged by reporters, delivered an emotional defense of her career at a news conference, saying she had been financially destitute and had to do what she could to survive. She vowed to fight on behalf of the working poor as a Diet member. 

On a recent day, Isogai, Tanioka and Yuko Sato, 46, a mother of four who spent 21 years as a housewife and two years as a local assemblywoman in Nagoya before winning a Diet seat in August, sat in Tanioka’s campaign office and discussed their rise to power.

Isogai, who did not own a business suit, had been followed to a department store by a mob of reporters, who interviewed and photographed her while she tried on clothes.

“This entire system shows a deeper psychology of the establishment of Japan, including the media,” Isogai said. “This attention is subconscious jealousy and a sense that we are not supposed to be here.”

Isogai, like Tanaka, vowed to use her personal experiences to fight for legal protection of temporary workers, who are being hired more frequently as Japan’s traditional lifetime employment system breaks down. Sato, who is friends with Tanaka, called Tanaka a “victim” of the media who “does not regret what she did.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/japan/091001/politics-meets-porn-Japan