This article is about the Prime Minister of Japan. For the governor of Fukushima Prefecture of Japan of the same name, see Eisaku Satō (governor).
|Prime Minister of Japan|
9 November 1964 – 7 July 1972
|Preceded by||Hayato Ikeda|
|Succeeded by||Kakuei Tanaka|
27 March 1901|
|Died||3 June 1975
|Political party||Liberal Democratic Party (1950–1955)|
|Liberal Party (1949–1950)
Democratic Party (1950–1955)
|Alma mater||Tokyo Imperial University|
Eisaku Satō (佐藤 榮作 Satō Eisaku , 27 March 1901 – 3 June 1975) was a Japanese politician and the 61st, 62nd and 63rd Prime Minister of Japan, elected on 9 November 1964, and re-elected on 17 February 1967, and 14 January 1970, serving until 7 July 1972. To date, he is the 2nd longest serving prime minister in the history of Japan, serving a total of 7 years, 7 months and 28 days.
Satō was born in Tabuse, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on 27 March 1901 and studied German law at Tokyo Imperial University. In 1923, he passed the senior civil service examinations, and in the following year, upon graduation, became a civil servant in the Ministry of Railways. He served as Director of the Osaka Railways Bureau from 1944 to 1946 and Vice-Minister for Transportation from 1947 to 1948.
He served as minister of postal services and telecommunications from July 1951 to July 1952. Sato gradually rose through the ranks of Japanese politics, becoming chief cabinet secretary to then prime minister Shigeru Yoshida from January 1953 to July 1954. He later served as minister of construction from October 1952 to February 1953.
After the Liberal Party merged with the Japan Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party, Satō served as chairman of the party executive council from December 1957 to June 1958. Satō became minister of finance in the cabinets of Nobusuke Kishi (his brother) and Hayato Ikeda.
From July 1961 to July 1962, Satō was minister of international trade and industry. From July 1963 to June 1964 he was concurrently head of the Hokkaidō Development Agency and of the Science and Technology Agency, and was also state minister in charge of organizing the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo.
Satō succeeded Ikeda after the latter resigned due to ill health. His government was longer than many, and by the late 1960s he appeared to have single-handed control over the entire Japanese government. He was a popular prime minister due to the growing economy; his foreign policy, which was a balancing act between the interests of the United States and China, was more tenuous. Student political radicalization led to numerous protests against Satō’s support of the United States-Japan Security Treaty, and Japanese tacit support for American military operations in Vietnam. These protests expanded into massive riots, which eventually forced Satō to close the prestigious University of Tokyo for a year in 1969.
After three terms as prime minister, Satō decided not to run for a fourth. His heir apparent, Takeo Fukuda, won the Sato faction's support in the subsequent Diet elections, but the more popular MITI minister, Kakuei Tanaka, won the vote, ending the Satō faction's dominance.
Relations with mainland China and Taiwan
Satō repeatedly refused to allow representatives from the People's Republic of China to visit Japan. In 1965, Satō approved a US$150 million loan to Taiwan. He visited Taiwan in 1967. In 1969, Satō insisted that the defense of Taiwan was necessary for the safety of Japan. Satō followed the United States in most major issues, but Satō opposed the Nixon visit to China. Satō also bitterly opposed the entry of the PRC into the United Nations in 1971.
Satō introduced the Three Non-Nuclear Principles on 11 December 1967, which means non-production, non-possession, and non-introduction of nuclear weapons. He later suggested the "Four-Pillars Nuclear Policy".[clarification needed] During the prime ministership of Satō, Japan entered the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Diet passed a resolution formally adopting the principles in 1971. For this he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.
However, recent inquiries show that behind the scenes, Satō was more accommodating towards US plans of stationing nuclear weapons on Japanese soil. In December 2008, the Japanese government declassified a document showing that during a visit to the US in January 1965, he was discussing with US officials the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the People's Republic of China. In December 2009, his son reported that his father agreed in a November 1969 conversation with US President Nixon to allow the stationing of nuclear warheads in Okinawa once it was restored to Japanese sovereignty.
Since the end of the Second World War, Okinawa had been occupied by the United States. While visiting the United States in January 1965, Satō openly asked President Lyndon Johnson to return Okinawa to Japan. In August 1965, Satō became the first post-war prime minister of Japan to visit Okinawa.
In 1969, Satō struck a deal with U.S. president Richard Nixon to repatriate Okinawa and remove its nuclear weaponry: this deal was controversial because it allowed the U.S. forces in Japan to maintain bases in Okinawa after repatriation. Okinawa was formally returned to Japan in May 1972, and from that agreement Japan asserts a claim on the disputed Senkaku Islands as well.
Relations with Southeast Asia
During Satō's term, Japan participated in the creation of the Asian Development Bank in 1966 and held a ministerial level conference on Southeast Asian economic development. It was the first international conference sponsored by the Japanese government in the postwar period. In 1967, he was also the first Japanese prime minister to visit Singapore.
While at a restaurant on 19 May 1975, Satō suffered a massive stroke, resulting in a coma. He died at 12:55 a.m. on 3 June at the Jikei University Medical Center, aged 74. After a public funeral, his ashes were buried in the family cemetery at Tabuse.
Satō was posthumously honoured with the Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum, the highest honour in the Japanese honours system.
Sato received the following awards:
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (3 November 1972)
- Nobel Peace Prize (12 May 1974)
- Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (3 June 1975)
Satō married Hiroko Matsuoka, the daughter of diplomat Yōsuke Matsuoka in 1926 and had two sons, Ryūtarō and Shinji. In a 1969 Shukan Asahi interview with novelist Shusaku Endo, his wife accused him of being a rake and a wife-beater. His hobbies included golf, fishing, and the Japanese tea ceremony. The 37th prime minister of Japan, Nobusuke Kishi was his older brother. Both prime minister Satō and his wife, Hiroko Matsuoka, are descendants of samurai.
For further reading
- Allisonson, Gary D. Japan’s Postwar History. Cornell University Press (2004) ISBN 0-8014-8912-1
- Ambrose, Stephen & Brinkley, Douglas. The Rise to Globalism. Longman (1998). ISBN 0-14-026831-6.
- Feiler, Bruce. Learning to Bow:Inside the Heart of Japan. Harper (2004). ISBN 0-06-057720-7
- MacMillian, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World. Random House (2008). ISBN 0-8129-7057-8
- Eddy Dufourmont, "Satô Eisaku, Yasuoka Masahiro and the Re-Establishment of 11 February as National Day: the Political Use of National Memory in Postwar Japan", in Wolfgang Schwentker and Sven Saaler ed., The Power of Memory in Modern Japan, Global Oriental, 2008, p. 204–222.
- Nobel Committee information on 1974 Peace Prize
- Satō Eisaku EB article
- Japanese government home page
- "The Nobel Peace Prize 1974". Nobel Prize. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- Feilier. Learning to Bow. Page 80
- MacMillian. Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World
- Editorial: The U.S. nuclear umbrella, past and future
- Document on secret Japan-U.S. nuclear pact kept by ex-PM Sato's family
- Ambrose. The Rise to Globalism. Page 235
- Hoshiro, Hiroyuki (7 May 2007). "Postwar Japanese and Southeast Asian History - A New Viewpoint". Research and Information Center for Asian Studies. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- "The Wife Tells All". TIME. 10 January 1969. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
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