Japanese activist, ex-first lady Mutsuko Miki dies at 95

Kyodo

Renowned activist Mutsuko Miki, the wife of former Prime Minister Takeo Miki, died Tuesday of colon cancer at a Tokyo hospital, according to political sources. She was 95.

Miki led a busy public life even after her husband passed away in 1988, calling for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea and demanding compensation for the “comfort women” forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army.

In 1995, she became involved with the Asian Women’s Fund, a charity founded to compensate women forced into sexual servitude during the war. But she cut her ties with the fund the following year in disappointment at the government’s refusal to offer the victims formal reparations.

Miki became Japan’s first lady when her husband’s two-year stint as prime minister started in 1974.

She was also a vocal advocate of preserving Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces war, and traveled across the country to attend pacifist rallies alongside such luminaries as Nobel laureate and novelist Kenzaburo Oe and philosopher Takeshi Umehara.

In 2002, Miki was awarded a North Korean order of friendship for her contribution to promoting friendly bilateral ties.

She came from a distinguished family of politicians. Her father, Nobuteru Mori, founded major chemical manufacturer Showa Denko K.K. and served as a House of Representatives lawmaker. Her brother, Yoshihide Mori, was chief of the Environment Agency, the predecessor to the Environment Ministry, while another sibling, Kiyoshi Mori, headed the Management and Coordination Agency, the forerunner of the internal affairs ministry.

Her eldest daughter, Kiseko Takahashi, was a member of the House of Councilors and her nephew, Eisuke Mori, is a sitting Lower House member.