It's all there. The gruff, raspy voice. The feisty charisma. The appeal to voters sick of the status quo.

Conservative lawmaker Makiko Tanaka - daughter of Kakuei Tanaka, a 1970s prime minister Japan still loves to hate - is as quotable, boisterous and ready for a fight as her father ever was.She is also rapidly becoming one of the most popular politicians in the country.

"Many politicians just can't come up with new ideas, or even questions," Makiko Tanaka said at a news conference recently. "Some are hopeless idiots."

Having a loud mouth isn't usually an asset in Japanese politics. But then again, neither is being a woman or having a convicted bribe-taker for a father.

But a vast ocean of voter disillusionment has opened up amid Japan's economic and political woes, and Tanaka has taken advantage.

The recession is deepening, and there seems to be no end in sight to the bad-debt crisis that has Japan's once mighty banks fighting off rumors of imminent collapse.

Washington is worried that Tokyo's political procrastination will worsen the Asian economic crisis.

Discontent among Japanese voters was evident when the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered a devastating setback in parliamentary elections in July.

Tanaka, though a member of that party, has often been out-spoken.

Summing up the feelings of many Japanese, she called the party's vote to select a new prime minister a "garage sale."

Tanaka has a firm regional powerbase and, since Obuchi's election in July, has become one of the most sought-after interviews on Japanese television, broadening her national appeal.