Yoriko Kawaguchi

Yoriko Kawaguchi (川口 順子, Kawaguchi Yoriko, born January 14, 1941) is a Japanese politician. Born in Tokyo, she holds a BA in international relations from the University of Tokyo, and an M.Phil in economics from Yale University, where she became a Member of President’s Council on International Activities. Currently, she is a Professor at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs in Tokyo.[1]

Yoriko Kawaguchi
川口 順子
Yoriko Kawaguchi in Washington in September 2002.
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
1 February 2002  27 September 2004
Prime MinisterJunichiro Koizumi
Preceded byJunichiro Koizumi (acting)
Succeeded byNobutaka Machimura
Minister of the Environment
In office
6 January 2001  8 February 2002
Prime MinisterYoshirō Mori
Junichiro Koizumi
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byHiroshi Ohki
Director-General of the Environmental Agency
In office
4 July 2000  5 January 2001
Prime MinisterYoshirō Mori
Preceded byKayoko Shimizu
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Born (1941-01-14) January 14, 1941
Tokyo, Japan
ResidenceChiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Alma materUniversity of Tokyo
Yale University

Kawaguchi is a former Minister of the Environment of Japan from 2000 to 2002. Subsequently, she served Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004 and continued as a Special Adviser to the Japanese Prime Minister for foreign affairs from 2004 to 2005. She was also a former Member of the House of Councillors for the Liberal Democratic Party from 2005 to 2013.[2] In July 2008, she was appointed cochair of a new International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, with former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gareth Evans.[3]


A former economist at the World Bank, Kawaguchi served as Minister at the Embassy of Japan to the United States in 1990. She worked as a Director General of Global Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (now Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) between 1992 and 1993 before becoming a Managing Director of Suntory Holdings Ltd. in September 1993. In 2000, Kawaguchi was the director-general of the Environment Agency.[4]

She was elected to the House of Councillors in 2005, serving two terms through 2013. During her years as a Diet member, she served as deputy chair of the General Assembly of Liberal Democratic Party members in the Upper House. She also became the director and chair of the Environment Committee, director of the Budget Committee and director of the Commission on the Constitution. Kawaguchi served as chair of the LDP Okinawa Promotion Committee as well as co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and a board member of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Foundation in 2008. Currently, she is a member of the Tokyo Foundation CSR Committee.[2][4]


Kawaguchi, then a senior lawmaker of the ruling coalition Liberal Democratic Party, was ousted from her post as head of the Environment Committee of the House of Councillors when Japan's Upper House passed a resolution to fire her back in May 2013. This was due to her unauthorized extension of stay in China which made the panel she led cancel a scheduled session.[5]

Kawaguchi earned the approval of the parliament to go to China from April 23 to 24 to attend a conference but without prior permission, she extended for one more day to meet foreign policy official State Councilor Yang Jiechi. Kawaguchi apologizes to Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who is also the head of the LDP, of her unannounced leave but reasons that the last-minute arrangements with Yang was for Japan's best interests. This extension gained a lot of criticisms from the opposition parties as Kawaguchi violated parliamentary rules as well neglected her duties. However those who are in defense of the lawmaker such as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba say that the meeting between the two ministers was in order to address the territorial dispute going on between Japan and China in the East China Sea.[5][6]

The meeting was considered a rare chance given the escalated tensions going on between the two countries and that this might not be possible again anytime in the near future.[7] This commotion by the opposition was then seen as a futile attempt to weaken the power of LDP seeing as they control the Lower House and they might take hold of the Upper House with the upcoming elections. However, on May 9, 2013, the resolution of ousting Kawaguchi was passed despite the attempts of administration officials to defend her intentions.[8] The cancelled session scheduled on April 25 was the basis of the resolution and dismissal. Furthermore, her actions were perceived as disrespect of the power of the Upper House and her duties. The resolution was backed up by 7 opposition parties who then had the control of the Upper House.[5][7]

Honors and awards

In December 2003, Kawaguchi received the “Aguila Azteca Medal” from Vicente Fox, President of the United Mexican States. She is a recipient of an Anniversary Medal from the mayor of Sankt-Peterburg during the 300th anniversary of the city. March 2004, the Republic of Paraguay awarded Kawaguchi with the “Gran Cruz Extraordinaria” (National Testimonial Medal). She also received a Certificate of Doctor Honoris Causa by the authority of the Academic Council of the National University of Mongolia in September 2004. In October 2008, Kawaguchi received a Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale University for distinguished public service. She was also awarded “Star of Jerusalem” in October 2010 by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority. October the following year, she received once again an Anniversary Medal for a major contribution to global security promotion and non-proliferation regime by K. Kadyrzhanov, Director General of the National Nuclear Center.[9]


  1. "Hon. Yoriko Kawaguchi". United States-Japan Foundation. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  2. "Kawaguchi, Yoriko". Professor. The Tokyo Foundation. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  3. "Northeast Asia Regional Meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  4. "Yoriko Kawaguchi". Global Ocean Commission. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  5. Kyodo News International (May 8, 2013). "Opposition seeks to oust LDP lawmaker as committee chair". The Japan Times. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  6. Adam Westlake (May 8, 2013). "Opposition parties seek removal of LDP lawmaker after trip to China". The Japan Daily Press. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  7. Reiji Yoshida (May 10, 2013). "Kawaguchi axed from Upper House panel". The Japan Times. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  8. Ayako Mie (May 9, 2013). "Opposition guns for LDP committee chair". The Japan Times. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  9. "Profile". Yoriko Kawaguchi Official Website. Archived from the original on April 23, 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2014.

House of Councillors
Preceded by
Yoshifumi Matsumura
Chair, Committee on Environment of the House of Councillors
Succeeded by
Issei Kitagawa
Political offices
Preceded by
Kayoko Shimizu
Director-General of the Environmental Agency
Succeeded by
as Minister of the Environment
Preceded by
as Director-General of the Environmental Agency
Minister of the Environment
Succeeded by
Hiroshi Ohki
Preceded by
Junichiro Koizumi
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Succeeded by
Nobutaka Machimura
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