Keizō Obuchi

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Keizō Obuchi
小渕 恵三
Keizo Obuchi cropped 1 Keizo Obuchi 19980730.jpg
Keizō Obuchi
54th Prime Minister of Japan
In office
30 July 1998 5 April 2000
Monarch Akihito
Preceded by Ryutaro Hashimoto
Succeeded by Mikio Aoki (Acting)
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
11 September 1997 30 July 1998
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
Preceded by Yukihiko Ikeda
Succeeded by Masahiko Kōmura
Chief Cabinet Secretary
In office
6 November 1987 3 June 1989
Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita
Preceded byMasaharu Gotoda
Succeeded by Masajuro Shiokawa
Director General of the Prime Minister's Office
In office
9 November 1979 17 July 1980
Prime Minister Masayoshi Ōhira
Preceded byAsao Mihara
Succeeded by Taro Nakayama
Director General of the Okinawa Development Agency
In office
9 November 1979 17 July 1980
Prime Minister Masayoshi Ōhira
Preceded byAsao Mihara
Succeeded by Taro Nakayama
Personal details
Born(1937-06-25)25 June 1937
Nakanojō, Gunma, Japan
Died14 May 2000(2000-05-14) (aged 62)
Tokyo, Japan
Political party Liberal Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Chizuko Ono
Children Yūko Obuchi
1 son
1 daughter
Alma mater Waseda University

Keizō Obuchi(小渕 恵三,Obuchi Keizō, 25 June 1937 – 14 May 2000) was a Japanese politician who served in the House of Representatives for twelve terms and ultimately as the 54th Prime Minister of Japan from 30 July 1998 to 5 April 2000. His political career ended when he suffered a serious and ultimately fatal stroke.

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

House of Representatives (Japan) lower house of Japan

The House of Representatives is the lower house of the National Diet of Japan. The House of Councillors is the upper house.


Early life

Obuchi was born in Nakanojō, Gunma Prefecture on June 25, 1937. [1] His father, Mitsuhei Obuchi, was one of four representatives in the Diet (parliament) for a district in Gunma, a rural prefecture. [2] At the age of 13, he transferred to a private middle school in Tokyo and lived in the city for the rest of his life. In 1958, he enrolled at Waseda University as an English literature major, in hopes of becoming a writer. When his father died that same year, he decided to follow in his footsteps, so he changed his major to political science and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1962.

Nakanojō, Gunma Town in Kantō, Japan

Nakanojō is a town located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. As of February 2015, the town had an estimated population of 17,030, and a population density of 38.8 persons per km2, with 6862 households. Its total area is 439.28 km2.

Gunma Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Gunma Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region. Its capital is Maebashi.

Tokyo Metropolis in Kantō

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2018, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.

Between January and September 1963, he 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, he met Robert F. Kennedy by walking into the attorney general's office.

Robert F. Kennedy American politician and brother of John F. Kennedy

Robert Francis Kennedy was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, and as a U.S. Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968. Kennedy, like his brothers John and Edward, was a prominent member of the Democratic Party and has come to be viewed by some historians as an icon of modern American liberalism.

Political career

with Bill Clinton (at the Prime Minister's Official Residence on November 19, 1998) Bill Clinton and Keizo Obuchi.jpg
with Bill Clinton (at the Prime Minister's Official Residence on November 19, 1998)
with Bill Clinton (in Chiyoda, Tokyo on November 20, 1998) Clinton and Obuchi.jpg
with Bill Clinton (in Chiyoda, Tōkyō on November 20, 1998)
with Bill Clinton (in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia on June 18, 1999) Keizo Obuchi with Bill Clinton.jpg
with Bill Clinton (in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia on June 18, 1999)

See also: Obuchi Cabinet

That November, inspired by his talk with Kennedy, he 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. He served his first term in the Diet while pursuing graduate studies at Waseda.

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

Hirohito Emperor of Japan from 1926 until 1989

Hirohito was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 25 December 1926, until his death on 7 January 1989. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Akihito. In Japan, reigning emperors are known simply as "the Emperor" and he is now referred to primarily by his posthumous name, Emperor Shōwa (昭和天皇). The word Shōwa (昭和) is the name of the era coinciding with the Emperor's reign, after which he is known according to a tradition dating to 1912. The name Hirohito means "abundant benevolence".

The Japanese era name, also known as gengō (元号), is the first of the two elements that identify years in the Japanese era calendar scheme. The second element, a number, indicates the year number within the era. The third part is the literal "nen (年)" meaning "year."

Akihito 20th and 21st-century Emperor of Japan

Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan. He succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne upon the death of his father Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) on 7 January 1989. According to Japan's traditional order of succession, he is the 125th member of the world's oldest reigning dynasty. The Japanese government announced in December 2017 that Akihito will abdicate on 30 April 2019 due to his age and declining health.

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

Ryutaro Hashimoto 82nd and 83rd Prime Minister of Japan

Ryutaro Hashimoto was a Japanese politician who served as the 82nd and 83rd Prime Minister of Japan from 11 January 1996 to 30 July 1998. He was the leader of one of the largest factions within the ruling LDP through most of the 1990s and remained a powerful back-room player in Japanese politics until scandal forced him to resign his leadership position in 2004. Disgraced, he chose not to stand in the general election of 2005, and effectively retired from politics. He died on 1 July 2006 at a Tokyo hospital.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by far or by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

Kuril Islands island chain located in Northeast Asia administered by Russia

The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands, in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) northeast from Hokkaido, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the north Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many minor rocks. It consists of Greater Kuril Chain and Lesser Kuril Chain. The total land area is 10,503.2 square kilometres (4,055.3 sq mi) and the total population is 19,434.

In 1998, Obuchi's time came when the LDP lost its majority in the House of Councillors. Hashimoto resigned as LDP president, and Obuchi was named his successor. When the time came for the Diet to designate a new Prime Minister, Obuchi became only the second LDP candidate not to win the support of the upper house. 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, he was focused on two major issues: signing a peace treaty with Russia and reviving the Japanese economy. 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. His 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. [3]

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 cardio-vascular exercise. This is at odds with his depiction in Japanese media as gakeppuchi Obuchi(崖っぷち小渕, Obuchi on the brink) which construed his physical health mirrored the precarious state of Japan's economy.


Obuchi suffered a stroke on 1 April 2000 and slipped into a coma at Tokyo's Juntendo University Hospital. When it became apparent he would never regain consciousness, he was replaced by Yoshirō 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 many foreign dignitaries.

Personal life

with Tetsuya Komuro (at the Prime Minister's Official Residence on October 20, 1999) Tetsuya Komuro and Keizo Obuchi 19991020.jpg
with Tetsuya Komuro (at the Prime Minister's Official Residence on October 20, 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, Yūko Obuchi, ran for and was elected to the former prime minister's Diet seat in the 2000 elections. Obuchi was a great fan of the works of the late historical novelist Ryōtarō Shiba, and a particular admirer of Sakamoto Ryōma, a key figure in the events leading to the Meiji Restoration. [ clarification needed ]

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.


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  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 November 19, 2016.
  3. Ikegami, Akira (27 January 2014). "現代日本の足跡に学ぶ(14) 成長へ 好循環つかめるか". 日本経済新聞. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 小渕恵三首相は金融システムを安定させるため、金融機関の自己資本増強に取り組みました。景気対策となる公共事業拡大のため国債発行を増やしました。大きな借金を抱えるようになったのはこの頃からです。
  4. From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
  5. From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
  6. From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
Political offices
Preceded by
Asao Mihara
Director General of the Prime Minister's Office
Succeeded by
Taro Nakayama
Director General of the Okinawa Development Agency
Preceded by
Kiichi Miyazawa
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Succeeded by
Masajuro Shiokawa
Preceded by
Yukihiko Ikeda
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Masahiko Kōmura
Preceded by
Ryutaro Hashimoto
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Mikio Aoki
House of Representatives of Japan
Preceded by
Rokusuke Tanaka
Chair, Committee on Finance of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Shoji Ōmura
Preceded by
Kichizō Hosoda
Chair, Special Committee on Security of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Masajuro Shiokawa
Preceded by
Kosei Amano
Chair, Committee on Budget of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Shigetami Sunada
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ichirō Ozawa
Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Tamisuke Watanuki
Preceded by
Shin Kanemaru
Head of Heisei Kenkyūkai
Succeeded by
Tamisuke Watanuki
Preceded by
Shin Kanemaru
Vice-President of the Liberal Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Taku Yamasaki
Preceded by
Ryutaro Hashimoto
President of the Liberal Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Yoshirō Mori