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On Sept. 15, Renho was elected president of the Democratic Party, the nation’s leading opposition party. She accomplished this despite the furor in both mainstream and social media about her heritage. Born to a Japanese mother and Taiwanese father, she acquired Japanese citizenship as a teen and has been criticized for supposedly retaining her Taiwanese nationality. Japan’s Nationality Act proscribes dual nationality after the age of 22.

Much of the mean-spirited complaining about Renho has been about her nationalities. Renho probably also attracts criticism because she asserts her different identity by using her given name, rather than becoming another Murata-san (her husband’s surname), confounding those who want Japanese people to not only look the part but have fully “Japanese” identities as well. However, looked at more closely, the real issue at the heart of the recent Renho-bashing is based on discrimination according to gender that existed before she was even born.

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