She became Japan's first ever female defense minister in 2007, and a year later became the first woman to run for leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. And, earlier this month, she was elected Tokyo's first ever female governor by a landslide.
But breaking through hasn't always been easy. In Japan, she says the glass ceiling is more like steel -- and now she wants to help women beneath it.
"The potential of Japan is so enormous," she told CNN in an interview in her Tokyo office.