Bureaucrat weighs election run as ‘assassin’ for Koizumi

by Reiji Yoshida

Senior Finance Ministry official Satsuki Katayama said Saturday she is “positively” considering a request from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to run in the Sept. 11 general election against a candidate in Shizuoka Prefecture opposed to postal privatization.

If she accepts, the 46-year-old bureaucrat would have one the highest profiles in the election.

“Yes, of course,” Katayama told reporters when asked if she is mulling in a positive light the offer from Koizumi, who invited her to Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo.

“(The offer) is more honor than I deserve as a bureaucrat,” said Katayama, adding she will soon make a decision after talking with other ministry officials.

Katayama, head of the Finance Ministry’s Development Institutions Division, made headlines in July 2004 when she was appointed as the first female screener for the defense budget.

Koizumi has asked Katayama, a former Ms. University of Tokyo, to run in the Shizuoka No. 7 district against Minoru Kiuchi, who voted against Koizumi’s postal privatization bills in the House of Representatives.

The media has dubbed her as one of Koizumi’s “assassins” tasked with ending the political careers of LDP rebels who voted against the bills.

“(The prime minister) told me this election will be a crossroads for Japan, and that reforms must continue,” Katayama said after the meeting.

Koizumi, who has categorically labeled all privatization foes as “anti-reformers” in image campaigns for the election, is meanwhile trying to eliminate use of the word “assassin” in media reports.

“(Koizumi) told me I should call myself a ‘reform Madonna’ or ‘reform flag woman’ ” instead, Katayama said.