Today we profile Japan Communist Party candidate Yoshie Oshima (age 59):
Taken during this morning’s commute.
Career: Oshima has spent her entire career working in the Adachi-ku government, first as a bureaucrat and later as a politician. After graduating from high school in 1968, she became a bureaucrat in the Adachi city hall. In a biographical video, Oshima recalls her daily tasks included cleaning the senior workers’ desks and serving them tea, tasks that she didn’t hate but considered fairly useless to her goal of helping the people of Adachi-ku. At that point, she decided to start looking for a job that would give her the same status as the men and allow her to realize her objectives.
She found her niche in 1973 when she became a case worker at the city’s welfare office. At this time she got involved with the Communists, which no doubt played a role in inspiring her to become a consistent political agitator. She joined movements to oppose price hikes to and push for improvements to pre-school services, in part because she herself had trouble finding ways to balance child-raising and a career. She also served as head of the city workers’ labor union.
Oshima left the city hall in 1982 to run as the chosen successor to a retiring Communist politician and won her first election in 1983. She’s been a fixture of the Adachi assembly ever since. As a city assemblywoman, her achievements have focused on very specific local issues, such as fixing water buildup in a Kitasenju walkway. She’s also been highly critical of the LDP mayor’s policies, such as the elimination of detailed garbage separation requirements and price hikes to pre-schools (a pet issue for Oshima).
Policy: While she has joined the other candidates in offering a program of beefed up welfare benefits, her campaign is unique for her particularly blistering criticisms of the Ishihara administration, echoing the general JCP line. The party’s efforts to uncover scandalous spending and potential corruption have formed the only credible opposition force in prefectural politics, a foundation the DPJ has sought to expoit by belatedly coming out strongly against Ishihara’s policies.
Despite the JCP’s commendable record in that regard, the main reason Mrs. Adamu and I cannot support any JCP candidate is their program of radical social change. The party may have softened its line in recent years, but the JCP’s policy remains essentially unchanged – they are working to build up their political support in preparation for eventually realizing communism.
Chances of winning: Hoping to repeat history, Oshima is once again running as the chosen successor to a retiring JCP veteran. This time she seeks to replace Yasunobu Watanabe who is retiring for health reasons after a long political career. Both Tokyo Shimbun and Nikkei Shimbun expect her to win a seat by inheriting the support of her predecessor.
Tell me something interesting: Not much in this department. Oshima is the only candidate so far to prominently feature her personal life in her campaign. This makes sense since it was no small achievement for her to lead a political career while married and raising three kids. The kids are grown up and Oshima now has two grandchildren. Her hobbies are photography and flower arrangement.