Profile: Shinji Tarutoko, unknown lawmaker takes on political powerhouse in DPJ leadership race

18:40, June 03, 2010      

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Shinji Tarutoko, a relatively unknown lawmaker from Japan's ruling Democratic Party (DPJ), said on Thursday he would run for the party leadership to replace Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

DPJ lawmaker Shinji Tarutoko, 50, chairs the House of Representatives Environment Committee and is a lower house member.

Tarutoko, the unequivocal underdog in the DPJ leadership race, graduated from the economics department of Osaka University and went on to study at the prestigious Matsushita Institute of Government and Management (MIGM).

Known for its championing of free-market economic policies, MIGM, a school for future political leaders, has produced 70 politicians currently serving in government, some of whom are Cabinet members.

According to a survey conducted by the Mainichi newspaper prior to last year's general election that saw the DPJ sweep to power bringing an end to almost 50 years of unbroken Liberal Democratic rule, Tarutoko reportedly backed the party line that a decision on raising the consumption tax from the current 5 percent should wait until after the next general election, due by late 2013.

He also said he did not rate former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's structural reforms very highly.

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