'Princess Corps' Shakes Up Japanese Politics

New lawmakers include former sex industry reporter
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2009 6:19 AM CDT
Eriko Fukuda, left, is a former activist who sued the government after contracting hepatitis C from a tainted blood transfusion. Mieko Tanaka, right, once worked as a sex-industry reporter.   (Democatic Party of Japan)

(Newser) – A group of young, attractive female politicians are credited with helping the Democratic Party of Japan sweep to victory last month, but some of them are attracting more attention for their pasts than their policies. The DPJ's 26 new female members of parliament—dubbed the "Princess Corps" or "Ozawa Girls" after a party boss—include a former bar hostess and a former politician's secretary, who once worked as a sex industry reporter and appeared topless in a horror film.

Critics accuse the DPJ of recruiting unqualified women purely to broaden its appeal, but the "Ozawa Girls" say they intend to exert a real influence on policy and blame the media criticism on Japan's heavily male-dominated establishment. "This attention is subconscious jealousy and a sense that we are not supposed to be here,” one lawmaker told GlobalPost.