Ryutaro Hashimoto

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Ryutaro Hashimoto
橋本 龍太郎
Hashimoto Ryūtarō.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
11 January 1996 – 30 July 1998
Monarch Akihito
Deputy Wataru Kubo
Preceded by Tomiichi Murayama
Succeeded by Keizō Obuchi
Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
In office
2 October 1995 – 11 January 1996
Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
Preceded by Yōhei Kōno
Succeeded by Wataru Kubo
Minister of Finance
Acting
In office
28 January 1998 – 30 January 1998
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
Preceded by Hiroshi Mitsuzuka
Succeeded by Hikaru Matsunaga
In office
10 August 1989 – 14 October 1991
Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu
Preceded by Tatsuo Murayama
Succeeded by Toshiki Kaifu (Acting)
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
In office
30 June 1994 – 11 January 1996
Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
Preceded by Eijiro Hata
Succeeded by Shunpei Tsukahara
Minister of Transport
In office
22 July 1986 – 6 November 1987
Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone
Preceded by Hiroshi Mitsuzuka
Succeeded by Shintaro Ishihara
Minister of Health
In office
7 December 1978 – 9 November 1979
Prime Minister Masayoshi Ōhira
Preceded by Tatsuo Ozawa
Succeeded by Kyoichi Noro
Personal details
Born (1937-07-29)29 July 1937
Sōja, Japan
Died 1 July 2006(2006-07-01) (aged 68)
Tokyo, Japan
Political party Liberal Democratic Party
Children Gaku Hashimoto
Alma mater Keio University

Ryutaro Hashimoto (橋本 龍太郎 Hashimoto Ryūtarō?, 29 July 1937 – 1 July 2006) 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.

Early political life[edit]

He was born in Sōja in Okayama Prefecture. His father, Ryōgo Hashimoto, was a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. Following his father's lead, Ryutaro received his degree in political science from Keio University in 1960, and was elected to the House of Representatives of Japan in 1963.

He moved through the ranks of the Liberal Democratic Party over the next twenty years, landing a spot as Minister of Health and Welfare under premier Masayoshi Ōhira in 1978, and in 1980 became the LDP's director of finance and public administration. He again became a cabinet minister in 1986 under Yasuhiro Nakasone, and in 1989 became secretary general of the LDP, the highest rank short of party president (if the LDP is in government, usually also the prime minister.)

Hashimoto became a key figure in the strong LDP faction founded by Kakuei Tanaka in the 1970s, which later fell into the hands of Noboru Takeshita, who then was tainted by the Recruit scandal of 1988. In 1991, the press had discovered that one of Hashimoto's secretaries had been involved in an illegal financial dealing. Hashimoto retired as Minister of Finance from the Second Kaifu Cabinet. Following the collapse of the bubble economy, the LDP momentarily lost power in 1993/94 during the Hosokawa and Hata anti-LDP coalition cabinets negotiated by LDP defector Ichirō Ozawa. Hashimoto was brought back to the cabinet when the LDP under Yōhei Kōno returned to power in 1994 by entering a ruling coalition with traditional archrival Japanese Socialist Party (JSP), giving the prime ministership to the junior partner, and the minor New Party Harbinger (NPH). Hashimoto became Minister of International Trade and Industry in the Murayama Cabinet of Tomiichi Murayama.[1] As the chief of MITI, Hashimoto made himself known at meetings of APEC and at summit conferences.

In September 1995, Yōhei Kōno did not stand for another term. Hashimoto won the election to LDP president against Jun'ichirō Koizumi 304 votes to 87,[2] and succeeded Kōno as leader of the party and as deputy prime minister in the Murayama cabinet.[3]

Prime minister[edit]

When Murayama stepped down in 1996, the 135th National Diet elected Hashimoto to become Japan's 82nd prime minister – he was elected against NFP leader Ichirō Ozawa with 288 votes to 167 in the lower house and 158 to 69 in the upper house –[4] and lead the continued LDP-JSP-NPH coalition government (First Hashimoto Cabinet).[5]

Hashimoto reached an agreement with the United States for the repatriation of MCAS Futenma, a controversial U.S. military base in an urban area of Okinawa, in April 1996. The deal was opposed by Japan's foreign ministry and defense agency but was backed by Hashimoto's American counterpart, President Bill Clinton. The repatriation of the base has yet to be completed as of 2015, as Okinawans have opposed efforts to relocate the base to a new site.[6] Hashimoto's domestic popularity increased during the Japanese-US trade dispute when he publicly confronted Mickey Kantor, US Trade Representative for the Clinton administration.[7][8]

Hashimoto's popularity was largely based on his attitude. When asked about why Japanese car dealerships did not sell American cars, he answered, "Why doesn't IBM sell Fujitsu computers?"[citation needed] When Japan's economy did not seem to be recovering from its 1991 collapse, Hashimoto ordered a commission of experts from the private sector to look into improving the Japanese market for foreign competition, and eventually opening it completely.

On September 27, 1996, the Hashimoto cabinet dissolved the lower house of the National Diet. In the ensuing general lower house election in October, the LDP made gains while its coalition partners SDP – the JSP had been renamed briefly after the formation of the Hashimoto cabinet – and NPH lost seats. Both parties ended the coalition with the LDP, but they remained Diet allies in a cooperation outside the cabinet (kakugai kyōryoku) until 1998.[7] Thus, the LDP and the Second Hashimoto Cabinet[9] safely controlled both houses of the Diet, although it was initially technically in the minority by a few seats in the lower house, and well short of a majority in the upper house. It was the first single-party LDP government since 1993. Having achieved this, Hashimoto was confirmed without challenger as party president in September 1997.[2]

Hashimoto's government raised the Japanese consumption tax in 1997. Although the government implemented a reduction in the personal income tax prior to raising the consumption tax, the hike still had a negative effect on consumer demand in Japan.[10]

During the Upper House regular election 1998, the LDP failed to restore its majority (lost in 1989 and not to be regained until 2016) and instead lost more seats. Hashimoto resigned to take responsibility for this failure, and was succeeded as LDP president and Prime Minister by Foreign Minister Keizō Obuchi.

Later political life[edit]

Hashimoto remained in the upper echelons of the LDP and led his faction for several more years. In 2001, he was one of the main candidates in the running to replace Yoshirō Mori as prime minister, but he lost the primary election to the more popular Junichirō Koizumi.

Hashimoto's faction began to collapse late in 2003 while debating over whether to re-elect Koizumi. In 2004, Hashimoto stepped down as faction leader when he was found to have accepted a ¥100 million check from the Japan Dental Association, and announced that he would not run for re-election in his lower house district.

Family[edit]

Former governor of Kōchi Prefecture, Daijiro Hashimoto, is his half-brother.

House of Representatives member and member of the Liberal Democratic Party Gaku Hashimoto is his second son.

Honours[edit]

  • From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (July 2006; posthumous)

Other information[edit]

Ryūtarō Hashimoto achieved the level of sixth degree black belt (6th dan) in Kendo, the art of Japanese fencing. In 1998, Hashimoto donated two tournament trophies to the Harvard Invitational Shoryuhai Intercollegiate Kendo Tournament as tokens of his encouragement.[citation needed]

In 1998, he was presented with the Silver World Award by Jere Ratcliffe, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, "for outstanding contributions to young people on an international level".[11]

On World Water Day (22 March) in 2004, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan established a global Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and appointed Ryutaro Hashimoto as its Chairman. Just prior to his death, Hashimoto submitted a letter addressed to "The People of the World" for publication in the book Water Voices from Around The World (October 2007), which is a book affiliated with the United Nations' decade of water (2005–15).[citation needed] In his letter, he addressed water-related disasters around the world, with an urgent appeal to the United Nations to halve the number of deaths caused by water disasters by 2015. Hashimoto closes this letter by writing: "An old proverb says 'Dripping water wears away the stone.' I humbly suggest, that through steadfast efforts, we can overcome any obstacle our civilization may encounter in the coming decade."[citation needed]

In 1999, Hashimoto appeared as a judge on the Japanese television show Iron Chef for the show's final battle, between Hiroyuki Sakai and Alain Passard.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kantei/Cabinet of Japan: Historical cabinets, Murayama Cabinet (81st) (Japanese)
  2. ^ a b LDP: 歴代総裁 (historical party presidents; includes election results)
  3. ^ Kantei/Cabinet of Japan: Historical cabinets, Reshuffled Murayama Cabinet (81st, reshuffled) (Japanese)
  4. ^ National Diet Library, 135th National Diet minutes (links to pdfs of the printed central government's official gazette (kanpō); use the Diet minutes search system for other formats): House of Representatives full session January 11, 1996 and House of Councillors full session January 11, 1996 contain the full result and list all individual roll-call votes for designating a prime minister (including lower-ranking candidates and invalid votes omitted here).
  5. ^ Kantei/Cabinet of Japan: Historical cabinets, First Hashimoto Cabinet (82nd) (Japanese)
  6. ^ "江田憲司氏「橋本首相は大田知事と17回会った」". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 14 June 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Gerald L. Curtis: The Logic of Japanese Politics. Leaders, Institutions and the Limits of Change. Columbia University Press 1999, p.172.
  8. ^ The Economist, July 11, 2006: Ryutaro Hashimoto, a reformer of Japan, died on July 1st, aged 68
  9. ^ Kantei/Cabinet of Japan: Historical cabinets, Second Hashimoto Cabinet (83rd), later Reshuffled (Japanese)
  10. ^ 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. 橋本龍太郎首相は97年の消費税率引き上げ前、所得税減税を実施しました。そして「もう大丈夫だろう」と判断したのですが、消費が落ち込んでしまいました。駆け込み需要を景気回復と見誤っていたのです。 
  11. ^ "Boy Scout leader urges knife safety". Japan Times. 9 March 1998. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Tomiichi Murayama
Prime Minister of Japan
1996–1998
Succeeded by
Keizō Obuchi
Preceded by
Yōhei Kōno
Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
1995–1996
Succeeded by
Wataru Kubo