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Lawmakers elected Sept. 11, some under a cloud of scandal, started their first official duties Wednesday, attending a House of the Representatives special session.

“The red carpet feels so special under my feet,” said Muneo Suzuki, 57, a former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who returned to the Lower House despite being convicted of bribery. He represents the Hokkaido regional party New Party Daichi, which he established.

“It’s almost like being absent for 20 years,” a teary Suzuki said. He had given up his Diet seat when he did not run in November 2003, citing health reasons. He is currently appealing his bribery conviction and prison sentence.

“(Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin will be coming in November,” he went on. “I hope Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi, with his power that led to victory in the election, stakes everything on diplomacy to resolve the territorial issue.”

Suzuki was referring to the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that Japan wants back.

Kiyomi Tsujimoto, 45, a Social Democratic Party member who was convicted of defrauding the government, was also returned to the Diet, staging her entry into the chamber from the front gate.

“People re-elected me despite the many things that happened,” she said. “The political situation is tough, but I want to do my best.”

Female LDP members dubbed “madonnas of reform” during the campaign also entered the chamber.

Kuniko Inoguchi, 53, a former ambassador to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament and a professor at Sophia University, became emotional and shed tears.

“I hold in my heart the passion of all the people that have devoted themselves to the democracy of this country,” she said. “I want to contribute to furthering debate over diplomacy and security.”

Some of the female LDP candidates made tabloid headlines as “assassins” of rebels who voted against Koizumi’s postal reforms.

“I want to be a politician who takes on work energetically and gets it done,” said Satsuki Katayama, 46, an ex-Finance Ministry bureaucrat.

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