The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) chose Tomoko Tamura as its first-ever female leader Thursday, apparently in the hope of broadening its support base and attracting a wider array of voters.

Upper House member Tamura, 58, takes over the chair of the 102-year-old political party — Japan’s oldest — from 69-year-old Kazuo Shii, who had served in the position since 2000 and was the longest-serving head of a major Japanese political party. The decision was made on the final day of the party’s congress in the city of Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Also Thursday, Shii was appointed chair of the JCP’s central committee, a key policy-making body, where he will continue to have a strong influence over the party’s direction.