Hashimoto Ryûtarô


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(b. 29 July 1937, d. 1 July 2006).

Prime Minister of Japan 1996–8

The son of a former Cabinet Minister, he was first elected to the Diet (the House of Representatives) at the age of 25, a rare achievement in Japan's gerontocratic political system. This distinction marked the beginning of an outstanding political career, especially in the field of health and welfare policy. In 1995 he succeeded Kôno Yôhei as president of the Liberal Democratic Party. The directness with which he pronounced his views on a number of controversial issues suggested that he would prove to be a decisive leader when he took his turn as Premier in January 1996. However, in the early days of his coalition government, suffering many of the same difficulties as his predecessor, he proved unable to overcome the legislative morass caused by continuing financial scandals in Japan. He was unable to find a response to the Asian economic crisis from 1997. His popularity declined, and he resigned following bad results for the Liberal Democratic Party in elections to the Upper House.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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