In a sector where women are rarely seen at the forefront, 33-year-old Shoko Kawata made history by becoming Japan's youngest female city mayor when she was elected in Yawata, southern Kyoto Prefecture last year. Her victory was unexpected — but for some is a welcome change.

Despite having no direct ties to the city, Kawata successfully appealed to the almost 70,000 people residing in the city, backed by the support of three political parties. Previously, the record for youngest city mayor was held by Sawako Naito, who was 36 years old when she was elected as Tokushima’s mayor in 2020.

Now, having spent a little more than two months in the mayoral office, Kawata has expressed her wish to listen to and incorporate people’s feedback in creating a positive community.