Japan’s first election candidate of Uyghur heritage backed by major party

by Anne Kader

Photo: Arfiya Eri’s website




Arfiya Eri, 33, is running for a seat in the House of Councillors, the Japanese senate. She is world’s first election candidate of Uyghur heritage backed by a major party.


On May 30, Ms. Eri participated in a press conference to announce additional candidates for proportional representation officially held at the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters and made a greeting. 



“She is the single most trustworthy human being I know. And one of the kindest too! [She is] the sort of friend that you can always count on their sheer goodness in the hardest of times”, Joe McReynolds, a long-time friend of Arfiya’s, tweets.


“Arfiya has had an incredible career – the Bank of Japan, the United Nations – but the connecting thread is that she has spent her adult life trying to build a more just world. For the Uyghurs, for women in Japan, and anyone treated unfairly”, McReynolds continues.


Ms. Eri considers her natural curiosity to be friends with anyone a strong point. She admits she is not very good at exercising. Her hobbies include solo traveling (especially by train) and watching movies and plays.


She is fluent in several languages such as Japanese (native), English, Chinese, Uyghur (fluent), Uzbek, Turkish (intermediate), and Arabic (beginner).  


Ms. Eri was born in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, in 1988. Her parents are from the “Uyghur Autonomous Region”: Her father is Uyghur Japanese, and her mother is Uzbek Japanese. She was naturalized in Japan with her family in 1999. From the age of ten, Ms. Eri was raised in China (Shanghai / Guangzhou) due to her father’s transfer.


For her young age, Ms. Eri has an impressive resume, having worked at CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington), Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations (New York), WHO (Geneva), Citibank, China (Shanghai), Bank of Japan International Bureau IMF / World Bank General Assembly Preparation Group / International Relations Group to mention a few.


“From my experience in China, I became more eager to learn more about the relationship between different people groups and cultures, wealth and poverty, and peace and war, so I decided to enroll in the Foreign Policy Department at Georgetown University,” Ms. Eri says.


While doing an internship in Geneva, the great earthquake occurred in Eastern Japan. From this experience, I wanted to contribute to the reconstruction of the Japanese economy and financial stability, so I returned to Japan.” Ms. Eri writes on her website.


As a young Japanese woman, Ms. Eri has taken the lead in Japan’s democracy, decided to work towards courageous politics, and retired from the United Nations to return home.






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