Recent events seem to suggest that the line between entertainment and politics is easy to cross. In the US, Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger took the California governorship. In Taiwan, former actress May Chin (高金素梅) now serves as a legislator, while television star and singer Jacky Wu (吳宗憲) is expected to run for office. And in Japan, newly-elected Councilor Ren Hou is the celebrity-turned-politician of the moment.
However, in Taiwan, Ren Hou's claim to fame is not her status as 1988's "Clarion Girl," an award generally seen as a springboard to other opportunities in the entertainment industry.
Nor is she known for her work as an information broadcast personality. In Taiwan, Ren Hou is known as the first ethnic Taiwanese to be elected to Japan's upper legislative house, the House of Councilors.
Ren Hou was born to a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, and is a naturalized Japanese citizen, but she has been called Taiwan's native daughter nevertheless. She is known as Lien Fang (
In Japan's legislative elections last month, the 36-year-old Ren Hou, a member of Japan's primary opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, took away the third highest number of votes in the hotly contested Tokyo district, beating out eight other candidates.
It is an indication of Ren Hou's status in Taiwan that she was ushered to sit next to Vice President Annette Lu (
Having worked as a reporter four years ago, Ren Hou traveled to Taiwan previously to cover President Chen Shui-bian (
Asked what she plans to speak with the president about during the meeting, she responded that they would most likely touch upon issues of diplomacy and possibilities for future interaction between Taiwan and Japan.
"Japanese diplomacy is strange; it holds that Taiwan is not a country. However, my father is a native of Taiwan. Why isn't Taiwan a country?" Ren Hou said.
"Her father was born here and she is Japanese now. However, she feels that Taiwan is a complete country. What she said was very clear, even though she sometimes has an accent," National Policy Advisor Fan Jen-fei (
"Japan is too polite when dealing with China, taking a low profile. My father is Taiwanese and my mother Japanese, and I hope to play a role on behalf of Taiwan. The vice president [Lu] called on Japanese support. Japan will be the first to support Taiwan," Ren Hou said, while addressing the Democratic Pacific Assembly yesterday.
Ren Hou also told reporters yesterday that she brought her children, fraternal twins, with her to Taiwan, and she plans to show them her father's home in Changhua.
With crowds of reporters and government officials fighting to speak with Ren Hou yesterday as she got up from her seat next to the vice president, Ren Hou confessed that she was a bit nervous being back in Taiwan.
"Because I am now a councilor in Japan's Diet now, my status is a bit different. Thus, I am a bit nervous," Ren Hou confessed.