Kuniko Inoguchi, former ambassador to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, was set to win a seat in the House of Representatives election Sunday, according to Kyodo News projections.

Inoguchi, 53, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, is ranked at the top of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s list of candidates in the proportional representation block for Tokyo. She did not run in a single-seat district.

Inoguchi became a disarmament ambassador in Geneva in April 2002 and served for two years. She was the first Japanese academic in 40 years to assume an ambassadorial post.

Pundits widely expect Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to appoint Inoguchi as the new foreign minister.

“I really feel grateful,” Inoguchi said after arriving at the LDP’s Tokyo office at 8 p.m. and confirming TV reports assuring her of victory.

The Sophia University graduate received a doctorate in political science from Yale University in 1982 and was appointed to a number of other government positions, including a stint on the Defense Policy Review Council.

‘Reform madonna’ wins

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) Former Finance Ministry bureaucrat Satsuki Katayama captured the Shizuoka No. 7 single-seat district Sunday, ousting an opponent of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s postal reforms.

Katayama, 46, touted by Koizumi as a “madonna of reform” and running on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party ticket, beat independent Minoru Kiuchi, 40, a former diplomat and LDP rebel who voted against the postal reform bills, and Takuya Abe, 38, a former city assembly member of the Democratic Party of Japan.

The first female budget examiner at the Finance Ministry, Katayama quit her job in mid-August when Koizumi personally tapped her to run against Kiuchi as a “parachute candidate” in the Shizuoka district.

The Tokyo University graduate was one of more than 30 “assassin” candidates fielded by Koizumi.

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