Hiromu Nonaka

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Hiromu Nonaka
野中 廣務
Hiromu Nonaka 199807.jpg
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
August 8, 1983 – October 10, 2003
Preceded byShigesaburo Maeo
Sen'ichi Tanigaki
Succeeded byHideo Tanaka
ConstituencyKyoto-2 until 1993
Kyoto-4 from 1993
Head of the Okinawa Development Agency
In office
January 14, 1999 – October 5, 1999
Prime MinisterKeizo Obuchi
Preceded byKichio Inoue
Succeeded byMikio Aoki
Chief Cabinet Secretary
In office
October 5, 1998 – July 30, 1999
Prime MinisterKeizo Obuchi
Preceded byKanezo Muraoka
Succeeded byMikio Aoki
Minister of Home Affairs and Head of the National Public Safety Commission
In office
June 30, 1994 – August 8, 1995
Prime MinisterTomiichi Murayama
Preceded byHajime Ishii
Succeeded byTakashi Fukaya
Personal details
Born(1925-10-20)October 20, 1925
Sonobe, Kyoto, Japan
DiedJanuary 26, 2018(2018-01-26) (aged 92)
Shimogyō-ku, Kyoto, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic Party

Hiromu Nonaka (野中 廣務, Nonaka Hiromu, October 20, 1925 – January 26, 2018) was a Japanese LDP politician. He served as a local politician from 1951 to 1978 and in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 2003, becoming one of its most prominent members in the 1990s. He served as Minister of Home Affairs and Head of the National Public Safety Commission from 1994 to 1995, as Chief Cabinet Secretary from 1998 to 1999, and as Head of the Okinawa Development Agency in 1999. Nonaka was widely considered as a voice of reason within the LDP.

Early life and local political career[edit]

Nonaka was born in the town of Sonobe (now part of the city of Nantan) in central Kyoto Prefecture. After graduating high school in 1943, he worked for the Japanese National Railways in Osaka, an office managed at the time by future prime minister Eisaku Sato.

Nonaka encountered discrimination in his youth as a member of the burakumin group; he later said this discrimination was a factor in his decision to leave JNR and enter politics.[1] He entered local politics in Sonobe, where he served as a member of the local assembly from 1951 to 1958, and as mayor from 1958 to 1966. He then won a seat in the Kyoto prefectural assembly and served from 1967 to 1978.

He briefly served as vice-governor of Kyoto in 1978, but resigned to establish and serve as the chairman of Japan's first care facility for individuals with profound physical disabilities.

Diet career[edit]

Nonaka entered the House of Representatives through the Kyoto 2nd district by-election of 1983, in which two seats were open following the death of incumbent representatives Shigesaburo Maeo and Sen'ichi Tanigaki. Tanigaki's son Sadakazu Tanigaki won the most votes in the election, followed by Nonaka.

In the 1980s, Nonaka was part of the House faction headed by Noboru Takeshita. He rose to prominence following the Recruit scandal, which led to the collapse of the Takeshita faction, and the 1993 general election, in which the LDP entered the opposition for the first time in decades. As few LDP Diet members had experience being part of the opposition, Nonaka drew on his experience as part of the local and prefectural assembly opposition in Kyoto to become one of the most prominent Diet critics of the Hosokawa government.[citation needed]

Hiromu Nonaka was inaugurated as Minister of State on June 30, 1994.

Following the collapse of the Hosokawa-led coalition in 1994, Nonaka entered the Cabinet for the first time as part of the Murayama government. He served as Home Minister through the Tokyo subway sarin attack of 1995, and drew attention for his personal apology to a suspect falsely accused of poisoning his wife and neighbors with sarin.[1]

At the request of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, he travelled to China in 1998 to express remorse to victims of the Nanjing massacre.[2] Later that year, in response to a demand for further apologies by Chinese premier Jiang Zemin, Nonaka described the issue as a "finished problem."[3]

He was named Chief Cabinet Secretary under Prime Minister Obuchi in 1998. He wielded an unusual amount of power in this role, and was viewed by many insiders as a shadow leader of the government, arranging a major bank bailout plan and bringing the faction led by Ichiro Ozawa into the governing coalition.[1] A TIME article in December 1998 called Nonaka "Japan's most powerful man."[4]

As LDP secretary-general, he played a key role in defeating a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in 2000.[5][6]

In 2001 he was seen as a contender for the presidency of the LDP, and thereby for Prime Minister of Japan. He was reluctant to take the position as it would place his background in the spotlight.[7] During his candidacy, future Prime Minister Tarō Asō allegedly made remarks disparaging towards Nonaka's heritage. Nonaka later remarked that he would "never forgive" Asō for the remarks.[8] Aso denied making the remarks when questioned in 2005.[7] Nonaka ultimately supported Ryutaro Hashimoto in the election,[9] but Hashimoto lost to Junichiro Koizumi.

Koizumi's politics led to a decline in the power of LDP factions, including Nonaka's. Nonaka vigorously opposed the re-election of Koizumi as LDP president in September 2003, stating that "this election will decide whether Japan will be able to survive or go into decline as a nation."[10] After Koizumi was re-elected, Nonaka announced his retirement from politics in October 2003. He did not run in the 2003 general election, but campaigned for the LDP candidate in his district.[11]


Following his 2003 departure from the Diet, Nonaka served as chairman of the National Federation of Land Improvement Industry Groups, a powerful supporter of the LDP. After the formation of the Democratic Party of Japan government in 2009, Nonaka resigned from the LDP in 2011 for the stated reason of preserving his neutrality. He rejoined the LDP in 2016.[12]

On June 5, 2013, Nonaka led a delegation including former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to visit Beijing and confer with Liu Yunshan, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China. Nonaka told reporters that as a young politician in the 1970s, he had heard Kakuei Tanaka state that an agreement had been reached to shelve the dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in order to normalize relations between the countries.[13] Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied the claim as "baseless" and alleged that Nonaka had been influenced by "Chinese hospitality."[14]

Nonaka publicly criticized the LDP's plans to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution in 2017, stating that "Japan should not go through the history of war again."[15]

Nonaka died on January 26, 2018, at the age of 92.[16]


  1. ^ a b c REITMAN, VALERIE (1999-04-17). "Japan's Cabinet Secretary Wields Power on His Own Terms". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  2. ^ EFRON, SONNI (1998-05-12). "Japanese Right Praises Film on WWII Leader". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  3. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. (1998-11-30). "Burying the Past: War Guilt Haunts Japan". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  4. ^ MACINTYRE, DONALD (1998-12-21). "Japan's Most Powerful Man". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  5. ^ "Japan's Ruling Party Moves to Quash Mutiny Over Mori". Los Angeles Times. 2000-11-20. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  6. ^ "LDP Official Quits; Mori May Be at More Risk". Los Angeles Times. 2000-12-01. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  7. ^ a b Onishi, Norimitsu (2009). "Japan's Outcasts Still Wait for Acceptance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  8. ^ Yamaguchi, Mari, "Discrimination claims die hard in Japan", The Japan Times, January 25, 2009, p. 2.
  9. ^ "Japan's Hashimoto Enters Prime Minister Race". The New York Times. 2001-04-11. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  10. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (2003-09-20). "Japanese Election Exposes Rents in Party Fabric". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  11. ^ "Koizumi's Children". Newsweek. 2003-11-09. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  12. ^ "野中広務氏:自民復党を決定 参院選での協力期待 - 毎日新聞". 毎日新聞 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  13. ^ "尖閣「生き証人」のうさん臭い告白" [Senkaku: a dubious confession by "a living witness"]. The Sankei Shimbun. 2013-06-06. Archived from the original on 2013-06-07. archived at
  14. ^ "Japan - trying to rewrite history? - China.org.cn". www.china.org.cn. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  15. ^ "【憲法改正】野中広務・元自民党幹事長「反対。再び戦争になる歴史を歩むべきではない」". 産経ニュース (in Japanese). 2017-07-04. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  16. ^ "Ex-top gov't spokesman, LDP heavyweight Nonaka dies at 92". 26 January 2018 – via Mainichi Daily News.

External links[edit]

House of Representatives of Japan
Preceded by
Yoshiteru Uekusa
Chair, Lower House Committee on Communications
Succeeded by
Sadakazu Tanigaki
Preceded by
Makoto Koga
Chair, Lower House Committee on Construction
Succeeded by
Kazuo Torii
Political offices
Preceded by
Hajime Ishii
Minister of Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Takashi Fukaya
Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission
Preceded by
Kanezo Muraoka
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Succeeded by
Mikio Aoki
Preceded by
Kichio Inoue
Director of the Okinawa Development Agency
Party political offices
Preceded by
Yoshirō Mori
Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Makoto Koga