Monday, September 22, 2008

New Supreme Court Justice

"Ryuko Sakurai, who was recently appointed as a Supreme Court justice, is as old as the Constitution, which she is obligated to uphold.

"Sakurai, 61, is the first top court justice born after World War II and the third woman appointed to the post.

"When she was a division chief at the Labor Ministry--a predecessor of today's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry--she participated in the creation of the now defunct Child-rearing Leave Law.

"She arranged compromises between employers and workers, and prepared the law comprising 17 articles after many struggles.

""[The creation of] any law is the result of the sweat and tears of people involved. I'll interpret laws from a humanistic point of view," she said.

"People who know Sakurai describe her as a policy expert with a strong character.

"When she was loaned to the Osaka prefectural government, Sakurai experienced the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. As chief of the citizens and culture division of the prefectural government, she worked for disaster relief. After resigning from the Labor Ministry, she worked as a member of the Cabinet Office's panel for information disclosure. At the time, she demanded the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry disclose the names of hospitals to which fibrinogen--a blood product including tainted units that caused hepatitis--was distributed.

"At her previous post, the ministry disagreed with her demands on the grounds medical institutions would suffer. Sakurai said, "Nothing is more important than people's lives."

"Sakurai lives with her husband and a cat one of her friends found on the street. Her motto is "do my best."

"Her hobbies include skiing, mushroom hunting and pottery. She made all of the cups and plates in her kitchen. When asked about her pottery, Sakurai laughed and said, "I never felt the pottery I made was good enough." She added she will use a potter's wheel to clear her mind if she has a hard time with courtroom trials."

Dai Adachi, Yomiuri Shimbun (9/20/2008), Link to article (last visited 9/22/2008)

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