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Katayama Tetsu


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(b. 28 July 1887, d. 30 May 1978).

First Socialist Prime Minister of Japan 1947–8A graduate from Tokyo University's Faculty of Law, Katayama participated in the foundation of the Socialist People's Party in December 1926. He became its first Secretary‐General, and in 1930 he was elected to the Diet. Although Katayama went on to take part in the formation of the Socialist Masses Party two years later, he was forced from the party with other leaders in 1940, because he abstained in a Diet vote to expel a member of the assembly who had voiced criticisms of the army's conduct in China. After the war Katayama became secretary‐general in the new Japan Socialist Party which he helped to organize. In 1946 he was elected party chairman and in the following year he became Japan's first Prime Minister under the Japanese constitution in an alliance with the Democratic Party and the People's Cooperative Party. While this coalition government was short‐lived, it succeeded in overseeing the dissolution of the zaibatsu (financial conglomerates), the institution of Japan's modern civil service system, and the introduction of an unemployment insurance system. Nevertheless, his premiership was later dismissed by his opponents and by members of his own party, for its failure to establish a foothold for his party in government for much of the postwar period. With Nishio Suehiro, he later formed the DSP (1959), leaving that party in 1964.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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