Hatoyama Ichirô


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(b. 1 Jan. 1883, d. 7 Mar. 1959).

Prime Minister of Japan 1954–6

Early career

Following family tradition, Hatoyama pursued a political career from a young age, representing his Tokyo constituency at the local and national level to become part of the prewar political establishment. Before 1945, he was a member of three administrations and leader of the Seiyûkai. The reputation he developed as an enemy of intellectual freedom during his terms as Minister of Education in the Inukai (1931–2) and Saitô (1932–4) Cabinets remained with him after 1945. As Japan embarked on its war in Asia, Hatoyama withdrew from politics after actively criticizing the economic policies of the government.

Postwar politics

Hatoyama returned to public life following the Japanese surrender as the founder and first president of the Liberal Party (Jiyûtô), but was purged by the occupation authorities just when the Liberals emerged as the largest party in the 1946 Lower House elections. He was forced to relinquish control of his party to his deputy Yoshida Shigeru. On Hatoyama's return to politics in the early 1950s, Yoshida refused to make way for his former boss and the two leaders became involved in acrimonious rivalry leading to splits within the party. In 1954, Hatoyama led his followers out of the Liberal Party to join others on the centre‐right in forming the Democratic Party (Minshutô). This new party went on to unseat Yoshida and win the premiership for Hatoyama later in the same year. When conservative groups united in 1955 as the Liberal Democratic Party, he became its first president and retained the premiership. Regarded by many as an arch‐conservative and enemy of postwar democratic reforms, Hatoyama was also the politician who presided over the formal conclusion of hostilities with the USSR in October 1956, despite the opposition of many within the conservative camp.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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