With Taiwanese citizenship question still hanging over her, Japan’s opposition leader has stepped down


TOKYO — The head of Japan’s main opposition party said Thursday she was resigning while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party is losing public support amid a series of scandals.

Renho, the leader of Democratic Party, announced her resignation after the party performed poorly in the Tokyo assembly race in early July, which led its secretary general Yoshihiko Noda to express his intention to step down. Noda served as premier between August 2011 and December 2012.

Renho became the party’s first female leader in September when she won the party’s leadership race, but her reign was dogged by questions over her citizenship.

The daughter of a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, Renho was found just before taking up the leadership to still have Taiwan citizenship — something Japan does not allow adults to have.

Questions about her citizenship and criticism of her handling of the issue continued even after she last week produced documenting proving she no longer held Taiwan citizenship.

Race and nationality are highly fraught subjects in Japan, which claims that all of its citizens are of the same race.

Her gender was also notable; Japan has never had a female prime minister.

A landmark study by the country’s justice ministry found earlier this year that one in three foreigners in the country had experienced discrimination.