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Taro KONO, 53, is a seventh-term Liberal Democratic Member of the House of Representatives.

KONO served in Prime Minister Abe’s Cabinet as Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission, the head of the National Police Organization; Minister in Charge of Administrative Reform; Minister in Charge of Civil Service Reform; Minister in Charge of Regulatory Reform; Minister for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety; and Minister for Disaster Management.

Taro KONO represents the 15th District of Kanagawa Prefecture, which includes the cities of Chigasaki, Hiratsuka, Oiso, and Ninomiya on the Sagami Bay.

KONO was first elected to the House of Representatives as a Liberal Democratic Member in October 1996, at age 33, and has been re-elected without fail since. In the 2012 general election Kono received 192,604 votes, which was the largest number of votes received by any candidate in the election at that time.

In 2002, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Public Management, with responsibilities including administrative reforms, local government matters, and e-government. KONO also served in Prime Minister Koizumi’s final government as Deputy Minister of Justice from November 2005 to September 2006. KONO was the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of the Representatives from 2008 to 2009. After the LDP’s devastating defeat in the 2009 general election, KONO ran for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party and came in second to the former Finance Minister, Sadakazu TANIGAKI.

KONO donated part of his liver to his ailing father, Yohei KONO, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, in a liver transplant operation in April 2002. Yohei KONO later became the longest serving Speaker of the House of Representatives. Taro KONO introduced a major amendment to the Organ Transplant Law and secured its passage in 2009.

In 2004 KONO co-sponsored and enacted the Economic Sanction Amendment to the Foreign Exchange Law and the Port Close Law which allow the government to refuse the entry of North Korean ships into Japanese ports.

KONO has championed consumer issues within the LDP since he successfully established new labeling rules on genetically-modified organisms. He sponsored the Consumer Protection Law of 2004 and enacted the Anti-Skimming Law of 2005. KONO has also played a leading role in the passage of many government bills targeted toward various environmental issues. KONO is a strong advocate of the Kyoto Protocol and has led the debate on global warming issues. He also enacted the Anti-Chlorofluorocarbons Law of 2001.

KONO has voiced strong concerns over the government’s nuclear policy since 1997. He is especially critical of the government’s pursuit of the so-called “nuclear fuel cycle,” whereby plutonium is extracted from spent fuel by re-processing within Japan. KONO also opposes the building of new nuclear power plants.

Born January 10, 1963, KONO enjoyed a warm family upbringing with his brother and sister in Hiratsuka. He graduated from Keio Senior High School in Japan and the Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut, and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. He also attended the Central School of Planning and Statistics (SGPiS) in Warsaw, Poland, in 1984.

While in Washington, DC, KONO served as an intern for two years under Democratic Congressman Richard Shelby of Alabama, now the Senior Senator for Alabama and a member of the Republican Party. KONO joined Fuji Xerox in 1986, moving to Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific in Singapore in 1991. KONO later served as a managing director for Nippon Tanshi from 1993 to 1996.

KONO has been chairman of the Shonan Bellmare, a professional football club in Japan, winner of the 1995-1996 AFC Cup-Winners’ Cup and three-time winners of both the Emperor’s Cup and the National League. KONO is also Chairman of the Japan Race Horse Association, a non-profit organization which organizes the Select Sale, Japan’s largest thoroughbred yearling sales. KONO has taught an evening graduate class at the Hosei University. KONO and his wife, Kaori, have a son, Ippei, who was born in 2002. The KONOs are keen movie/theater-goers.


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