Politics, Asia - Pacific

Arfiya Eri, Japan’s 1st ethnic Turkic lawmaker

34-year-old lawmaker was born to Uyghur-Japanese father and Uzbek-Japanese mother

Riyaz ul Khaliq  | 08.05.2023 - Update : 09.05.2023
Arfiya Eri, Japan’s 1st ethnic Turkic lawmaker


Arfiya Eri was last month elected the first ethnic Turkic lawmaker in Japan.

Thirty-four-year-old Eri won by-elections to bag a seat in the lower house of Japanese parliament, known as Diet, on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ticket.

Born to an Uyghur-Japanese father and an Uzbek-Japanese mother, her parents are originally from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China.

Her father worked in China where Eri studied at an American school.

She pursued her higher studies in international politics at the US-based Georgetown University.

Later, she worked for five years at the Bank of Japan and the UN, where she worked as a staff member covering human rights and national security issues in Asia.

The public policy professional turned lawmaker was brought up in Kita-Kyushu in Japan's northern Fukuoka province.

Eri defeated the rival Constitutional Democratic Party candidate Kentaro Yazaki, 55, by 5,000 votes.

She can speak several languages.

On April 23, Eri won the by-election from eastern Chiba province No. 5 district.

She succeeded LDP lawmaker Kentaro Sonoura who stepped down after a political funds scandal.

Her stint in politics, according to Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, began after she returned to Tokyo in April 2022 where she met LDP leader Taro Kono.

Kono and Eri are graduates of Georgetown University.

She quit the UN job, and jumped into the race of parliament’s upper house election last summer but lost.

After Sonoura resigned, the LDP picked Eri from a list of 72 applicants for an electoral constituency in Chiba province.

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