Koizumi, Junichiro

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(b. 8 Jan. 1942).

Prime Minister of Japan, 2001–6

Early career

Born in Yokosuka City in the Kanagawa Prefecture, he graduated from the faculty of economics at Keio University and entered politics. In 1972 he entered the House of Representatives for the Liberal Democratic Party, and in 1979 became Vice‐Minister of Finance. Koizumi became Deputy Secretary‐General of the LDP, and in 1988 he entered the Cabinet as Minister of Health and Welfare. Koizumi came from the heart of the LDP's establishment, as his father and grandfather had been ministers of the LDP. However, he lost his bids for the LDP leadership in 1995 and 1998 due to his outspoken and unorthodox manner. This helped him in 2001, when in a deep party crisis he was seen as sufficiently detached from the traditional party elite to revive the government. He became leader of the LDP and Prime Minister, and led his party to a surprise victory in the elections to the upper house that year.

In office

Owing to much resistance within his own party, he was unable to realize many of his economic plans, though his consolidation of public spending did lead to a reduction in public debt. Koizumi's popularity fell in 2004, but it rebounded in 2005, when Koizumi led the LDP to its best election result in decades, as it obtained 296 out of 480 seats. Koizumi fought the election as a referendum on his proposal to privatize the country's vast post office. In foreign policy, Koizumi took the unpopular step of sending troops to Iraq following the Iraq War. Constitutionally barred from direct action, the troops were there in a supporting role, and by the time the troops were recalled in 2006 not a single soldier had died. At the same time, Koizumi supported the revision of Japan's pacifist Constitution to allow Japanese troops to engage in military action overseas. Koizumi's term as leader of the LDP ended in 2006, and he did not stand again for re‐election.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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