Keizo Obuchi
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Keizo Obuchi
Keiz? Obuchi
Keizo Obuchi 19980730.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan

30 July 1998 - 5 April 2000
MonarchAkihito
Ryutaro Hashimoto
Yoshiro Mori
Minister for Foreign Affairs

11 September 1997 - 30 July 1998
Ryutaro Hashimoto
Yukihiko Ikeda
Masahiko K?mura
Chief Cabinet Secretary

6 November 1987 - 3 June 1989
Noboru Takeshita
Masaharu Gotoda
Masajuro Shiokawa
Director General of the Prime Minister's Office

9 November 1979 - 17 July 1980
Masayoshi ?hira
Asao Mihara
Taro Nakayama
Director General of the Okinawa Development Agency

9 November 1979 - 17 July 1980
Masayoshi ?hira
Asao Mihara
Taro Nakayama
Member of the House of Representatives
for Gunma 3rd District

21 November 1963 - 14 May 2000
Personal details
Born(1937-06-25)25 June 1937
Nakanoj?, Gunma, Empire of Japan
Died14 May 2000(2000-05-14) (aged 62)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic Party
Spouse(s)
Chizuko Ono
(m. 1967)
Children3, including Y?ko
Alma materWaseda University (BA)

Keiz? Obuchi ( , Obuchi Keiz?, 25 June 1937 - 14 May 2000) was a Japanese politician who served as its prime minister from 1998 to 2000.

Obuchi was elected to the House of Representatives in Gunma Prefecture in 1963, becoming the youngest legislator in Japanese history, and was re-elected to his seat eleven times. Obuchi rose through the ranks of the Liberal Democratic Party and distinguished himself in the prominent posts of Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Foreign Affairs in the 1980s and 1990s. Obuchi became Prime Minister in 1998 after replacing Ryutaro Hashimoto as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, and his premiership was characterized by attempts to reverse the effects of the Lost Decade. Obuchi entered a coma in office in 2000, less than two years into his term as Prime Minister, and was replaced by Yoshiro Mori shortly before his death.

Early life

Obuchi was born on 25 June 1937 in Nakanoj?, Gunma Prefecture, the son of Mitsuhei Obuchi, one of four representatives in the National Diet for a district in Gunma.[1][2] At the age of 13, Obuchi transferred to a private middle school in Tokyo and lived in the city for the rest of his life. In 1958, Obuchi enrolled at Waseda University as an English literature major, in hopes of becoming a writer. When his father died that same year, Obuchi decided to follow in his footsteps as a politician, and continued as a graduate student in political science after graduating with his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1962.[3][4]

Between January and September 1963, Obuchi travelled to thirty-eight countries, completely circumnavigating the globe and taking odd jobs as he went, as he was short on money. These included being a dishwasher, an assistant aikido instructor and a TV camera crew assistant in Berlin which was the most physically demanding. While in the United States, Obuchi met Attorney-General Robert F. Kennedy, who had given a speech the previous year at Waseda University where Obuchi was a student. 36 years later while on a trip to visit President Bill Clinton as the Prime Minister of Japan, he would again meet Kennedy's secretary who had helped to arrange the earlier visit.[5]

Political career

Obuchi with U.S. president Bill Clinton at the Prime Minister's Official Residence in 1998
Obuchi with President Clinton in Cologne in 1999

That November, inspired by his talk with Kennedy, Obuchi ran for the House of Representatives and was elected to a seat representing Gunma's 3rd district, making him the youngest legislator in Japanese history at 26 years of age. Obuchi served his first term in the Diet while pursuing graduate studies at Waseda University.

In 1979, Obuchi became the director of the Prime Minister's office and director of the Okinawa Development Agency, his first cabinet post. Obuchi served there for eight years before becoming Chief Cabinet Secretary in 1987. Two years later, Obuchi formally announced the death of Emperor Sh?wa. As Chief Cabinet Secretary, Obuchi was tasked in making the famous announcement of the new era name "Heisei" for the new Emperor Akihito.

In 1991, Obuchi became secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and in 1994 became its vice president. In 1997, Ryutaro Hashimoto appointed Obuchi as Minister of Foreign Affairs, where he distinguished himself in negotiations with Russia over Japanese claims in the Kuril Islands, as well as negotiations over the unification of Korea.

Premiership

In 1998, Hashimoto resigned as LDP president when the party lost its majority in the House of Councillors, the upper house of the Diet, and Obuchi was named his successor. When the Diet designated a new Prime Minister, Obuchi became only the second LDP candidate not to win the support of the House of Councillors. However, the Constitution of Japan stipulates that if the two chambers cannot agree on a choice for Prime Minister, the choice of the House of Representatives is deemed to be that of the Diet. With the LDP's large majority in the lower house, Obuchi was formally appointed Prime Minister on 30 July.

During his term as Prime Minister, Obuchi was focused on two major issues: signing a peace treaty with Russia and reviving the Japanese economy of the Lost Decade. His solution to the latter was to increase public spending and lowering income taxes, which briefly slowed the recession but ultimately did very little to turn it around. One of his government actions was to give shopping coupons to 35 million citizens in the hope it would spark a consumer boom. Obuchi's Russia policy also eluded implementation before his death. Obuchi's fiscal policy focused on strengthening the core capital requirements for financial institutions while issuing more Japanese government bonds to finance public infrastructure, which boosted the rising Japanese public debt.[6]

Obuchi was known to have regularly enjoyed playing squash at the courts in the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo`s Azabu. Squash players tend to be very fit as it is excellent cardiovascular exercise, which was at odds with his depiction in Japanese media as gakeppuchi Obuchi (, "Obuchi on the brink") which construed his poor physical health mirrored the precarious state of Japan's economy.

Death

On 1 April 2000, Obuchi suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma at Tokyo's Juntendo University Hospital while still in office. When it became apparent Obuchi would never regain consciousness, he was replaced by Yoshir? Mori on 5 April. Obuchi died on 14 May at the age of 62; a state funeral was held in his honour at the Nippon Budokan on 8 June and was attended by foreign dignitaries from 156 countries and 22 organizations, including about 25 heads of state. Notable presences at Obuchi's funeral included UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, U.S. president Bill Clinton, and South Korean president Kim Dae-jung.

Personal life

Obuchi with Tetsuya Komuro in October 1999

Obuchi married environmental essayist Chizuko Ono in 1967. They were introduced by Tomisaburo Hashimoto, a Diet member and relative of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. They had one son and two daughters. Their younger daughter, Y?ko Obuchi, ran for and was elected to the former prime minister's Diet seat in the 2000 election. Obuchi was a great fan of the works of the late historical novelist Ry?tar? Shiba, and a particular admirer of Sakamoto Ry?ma, a key figure in the events leading to the Meiji Restoration.

Obuchi also had the unusual hobby of collecting figures of oxen. It relates to the fact that he was born in the Year of the Ox, the second year of the Chinese zodiac. He started collecting the figures following his initial election to the Diet in 1963, and after three and a half decades, the collection numbered in the thousands. He was also devoted to aikido and enjoyed golf as well.

Honours

References

  1. ^ Sims, Calvin (May 15, 2000). "Keizo Obuchi, Premier Who Brought Stability as Japan's Economy Faltered, Dies at 62". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ "Keizo Obuchi". May 18, 2000 – via The Economist.
  3. ^ "Profile of Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi". Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 2013-03-18. Retrieved .
  4. ^ "Keizo Obuchi Chronology". Cabinet Secretariat (Japan). Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "Obuchi To Visit Ex-Kennedy Secretary". APNews.com. 1999-05-02. Archived from the original on 2021-01-17.
  6. ^ Ikegami, Akira (27 January 2014). "?(14) ". . Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ a b c From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
  8. ^ reinanzaka-sc.o.oo7.jp/kiroku/documents/20140523-3-kiji-list.pdf

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ichir? Ozawa
Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party
1991
Succeeded by
Tamisuke Watanuki
Preceded by
Shin Kanemaru
Head of Heisei Kenky?kai
1992–1998
Vice-President of the Liberal Democratic Party
1994–1995
Succeeded by
Taku Yamasaki
Preceded by
Ryutaro Hashimoto
President of the Liberal Democratic Party
1998–2000
Succeeded by
Yoshir? Mori
Political offices
Preceded by
Asao Mihara
Director General of the Prime Minister's Office
1979–1980
Succeeded by
Taro Nakayama
Director General of the Okinawa Development Agency
1979–1980
Preceded by
Kiichi Miyazawa
Chief Cabinet Secretary
1987–1989
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Yukihiko Ikeda
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1997–1998
Succeeded by
Masahiko K?mura
Preceded by
Ryutaro Hashimoto
Prime Minister of Japan
1998–2000
Succeeded by
Mikio Aoki
Acting

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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