Wedding preparations are underway for Lower House member Shinjiro Koizumi, 38, a prominent politician who is widely seen as a potential future prime minister, and TV personality Christel Takigawa, 41.
The pair made the surprise announcement at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday. Their relationship was until that moment a closely guarded secret.
Separately, Koizumi wrote on his blog that Takigawa is pregnant and due to give birth early next year.
“We started our relationship last year and both of us had started thinking of marriage,” Koizumi, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, wrote.
“Fortunately we have been blessed with a child. I’ve been really happy spending time with someone I love, which naturally led to pregnancy and marriage,” he added.
The news came as a happy shock to many, as their involvement had not previously been reported or even suspected.
“This is actually only our second time being in public together,” Koizumi said, speaking of how they had to keep the relationship secret.
The son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, one of Japan’s most popular leaders in recent years, Shinjiro Koizumi is a rising star in politics.
Takigawa was born in France in 1977 to a Japanese mother and a French father. She rose to fame as an anchor for Fuji Television Network’s prime-time news.
“I know this is out of the blue, but actually we are going to get married. A lot will change for us, but we hope we have everyone’s support,” Takigawa said during their joint appearance before reporters.
Earlier in the day, Koizumi and Takigawa met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to report their plans.
Koizumi recounted his conversations with each of them to reporters, saying that while both had wished the new couple well, Suga had been taken completely by surprise and initially “couldn’t guess” what the two had visited him for.
Takigawa, who is trilingual, has a global profile. In 2013 she served as one of Japan’s ambassadors in its bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games. She is remembered during appearances for enunciating slowly and clearly the word omotenashi, meaning hospitality, which immediately became a buzzword in Japan.
When asked about the key factor behind their decision to marry, Koizumi admitted that he hadn’t been too sure about the idea of marriage itself.
“To be honest, I didn’t feel so strongly about marriage given my childhood,” Koizumi said, without elaborating further.
“But our time together changed my feelings about that… and how that happened is something that is beyond reason,” he added.