Date of birth: May 20, 1957
Electoral district: Lower House; Chiba No. 4 (fifth term)
Yoshihiko Noda never hesitates to describe himself as a rather boring, ordinary man, and that did not change after he was elected leader of the Democratic Party of Japan and subsequently prime minister.
"A loach can't emulate a goldfish," Noda told a room packed with DPJ lawmakers in the final phase of the ruling party race to pick a new leader. "Because of my looks, the public support rating for us won't rise," he joked.
But comparing himself to a common, bottom-feeding fish, abundant in Japan's rice paddies and marshlands says a lot about the character, background, political beliefs and leadership style of the man newly chosen to lead the country at this crucial moment.
Born in 1957 to parents who both grew up in farming households, Noda initially aimed to become a journalist. But the shy bookworm would soon learn the discipline needed to be a politician from novels that featured lower-class samurai, figures of integrity and strong will, he said.
After studying political science at Waseda University in Tokyo, Noda joined the first class of students to study at the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, a school for political hopefuls established in 1980 by the late founder of Panasonic Corp., Konosuke Matsushita.
Starting his political career in 1987 as a member of the Chiba Prefectural Assembly, Noda won his first Diet seat as a member of the now-defunct Japan New Party in 1993. He lost the Lower House seat in 1996 before returning to the national stage in 2000 with the DPJ.
A staunch supporter of tax increases for improving the nation's debt-laden finances, Noda has often been described as a mindless follower of the Finance Ministry, the most powerful arm of the bureaucracy.
He has served as finance minister in the Cabinet of his predecessor Naoto Kan since June 2010. Before that, he was senior vice finance minister under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
He has been a strong proponent of fiscal reforms even before the DPJ came to power in the 2009 general election.
When he announced his bid for the DPJ presidency to replace Kan, Noda stressed that he hopes to realize a tax hike to fix the nation's tattered state finances. During the election campaign, however, he toned down his call for a tax hike.
Noda does not have a strong power base within the DPJ. The intraparty group he leads has only about 25 members.
His career suffered a setback in 2006 when he had to quit as the party's Diet affairs chief to take the blame for a DPJ lawmaker's attempt to attack the then ruling Liberal Democratic Party by citing an email — which turned out to a fake — that hinted at a money scandal involving a senior LDP leader.
2011: Noda a grappler, wears many hats
2011: Noda victorious in race for prime minister
2011: Noda stakes out a hawkish stand on fiscal discipline
2003: DPJ's Noda intent on pursuing noble cause in Diet