Yoshida Shigeru


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(b. 22 Sept. 1878, d. 20 Oct. 1967).

Prime Minister of Japan 1946–7, 1948–54

Early career

A graduate of Tokyo University, he entered the Japanese diplomatic service and held various posts including that of Japan's minister in Rome and London. Because he was perceived to favour a less hostile relationship with Britain and the USA, his appointment as Foreign Minister in Hirota Kôki's Cabinet was blocked. With the expansion of Japan's war he was excluded from a role in the government. In the closing stages of the war, Yoshida fell under the suspicion of the Japanese authorities for advocating that Japan sue for peace and he was detained by the military police.

In power

After 1945, Yoshida Shigeru was particularly influential in shaping the idea that Japan would choose to pursue its own economic development while relying on its allies for its foreign and defence policies. He served as Foreign Minister in the early postwar Cabinets. When Hatoyama Ichiro was purged by the occupation authorities, Yoshida became his successor. He formed a Liberal Party government after the 1946 general election. Although initially distrusted by the US authorities because of his involvement with the prewar establishment, Yoshida the seasoned diplomat proved to be an ideal Prime Minister in the late 1940s, when the main concern of the Japanese government was the negotiation of the postwar settlement and the restoration of sovereignty. With this task concluded in 1952, Yoshida managed to cling on to government for two more years, although he proved to be an increasingly unpopular figure for his domineering style of leadership. He was largely superseded by the politicians who led the Liberal Democratic Party after 1955, although two of his disciples, Ikeda Hayato and Satô Eisaku, went on to be Prime Minister.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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