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In this Japanese name, the family name is Hashimoto.
Ryutaro Hashimoto
橋本 龍太郎

Meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in 2002.(cropped)

In office
11 January 1996 – 30 July 1998
Monarch Akihito
Preceded by Tomiichi Murayama
Succeeded by Keizō Obuchi

Born 29 July 1937(1937-07-29)
Sōja Japan
Died 1 July 2006 (aged 68)
Tokyo, Japan
Political party Liberal Democratic Party
Children Gaku Hashimoto
Alma mater Keio University

Ryutaro Hashimoto (橋本 龍太郎 Hashimoto Ryūtarō, July 29, 1937 - July 1, 2006) was a Japanese politician who served as the 82nd and 83rd Prime Minister of Japan from January 11, 1996 to July 30, 1998. He was the leader of one of the largest factions within the ruling LDP through most of the 1990s and remained a powerful back-room player in Japanese politics until scandal forced him to resign his leadership position in 2004. Disgraced, he chose not to stand in the general election of 2005, and effectively retired from politics. He died on July 1, 2006 at a Tokyo hospital.

Contents

Early political life

He was born in Sōja, Okayama. His father, Hashimoto Ryogo, was a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. Following his father's lead, Ryutaro received his degree in political science from Keio University in 1960, and was elected to the House of Representatives of Japan in 1963.

He moved through the ranks of the Liberal Democratic Party over the next twenty years, landing a spot as Minister of Health and Welfare under premier Ohira Masayoshi in 1978, and in 1980 became the LDP's director of finance and public administration. He again became a cabinet minister in 1986 under Nakasone Yasuhiro, and in 1989 became secretary general of the LDP, the highest rank short of prime minister.

Hashimoto became a key figure in the strong LDP faction founded by Tanaka Kakuei in the 1970s, which later fell into the hands of Takeshita Noboru, who then was tainted by the Recruit scandal of 1988. The LDP momentarily lost power following the collapse of the bubble economy, and in 1991, the press discovered that one of Hashimoto's secretaries had been involved in an illegal financial dealing. Hashimoto retired as Minister of Finance, but was almost immediately brought back to the cabinet, this time under coalition premier Murayama Tomiichi as Minister of International Trade and Industry. As the chief of MITI, Hashimoto made himself known at meetings of APEC and at summit conferences.

Prime minister

Bill Clinton meets Hashimoto at the Akasaka Palace.

When Murayama stepped down in 1996, the LDP elected Hashimoto to become Japan's next prime minister.

Hashimoto's popularity was largely based on his attitude. When asked about why Japanese car dealerships did not sell American cars, he answered, "Why doesn't IBM sell Fujitsu computers?"[citation needed] When Japan's economy did not seem to be recovering from its 1991 collapse, Hashimoto ordered a commission of experts from the private sector to look into improving the Japanese market for foreign competition, and eventually opening it completely. This gave Hashimoto the political capital he needed to dissolve the Diet in 1996 and win re-election.

During the Upper House elections 1998, the LDP lost its majority. Hashimoto resigned to take responsibility for this failure, and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi.

Later political life

Hashimoto remained in the upper echelons of the LDP and led his faction for several more years. In 2001, he was one of the main candidates in the running to replace Yoshiro Mori as prime minister, but he lost the primary election to the more popular Junichiro Koizumi.

Hashimoto's faction began to collapse late in 2003 while debating over whether to re-elect Koizumi. In 2004, Hashimoto stepped down as faction leader when he was found to have accepted a ¥100 million check from the Japan Dental Association, and announced that he would not run for re-election in his lower house district.

Family

The current governor of Kōchi Prefecture, Daijiro Hashimoto, is his half-brother.

House of Representatives member Gaku Hashimoto and member of the Liberal Democratic Party is his second son.

Other information

Ryutaro Hashimoto achieved the level of sixth degree black belt (6th dan) in Kendo, the art of Japanese fencing. He was also a guest judge for the very last battle on Iron Chef.

On World Water Day (March 22) in 2004, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan established a global Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and appointed Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto as its Chairman. Just prior to his death, Ryutaro Hashimoto submitted a letter addressed to "The People of the World," for publication in the book Water Voices from Around The World (October 2007), which is a book affiliated with the United Nations' decade of water (2005-2015). In his letter, Mr. Hashimoto addresses water-related disasters around the world, with an urgent appeal to the United Nations to halve the number of deaths caused by water disasters by 2015. Mr. Hashimoto closes this letter by writing: "An old proverb says 'Dripping water wears away the stone.' I humbly suggest, that through steadfast efforts, we can overcome any obstacle our civilization may encounter in the coming decade."

In 1999, Hashimoto appeared as a judge on the Japanese television show Iron Chef for the show's final battle, between Hiroyuki Sakai and Alain Passard.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Tomiichi Murayama
Prime Minister of Japan
1996–1998
Succeeded by
Keizō Obuchi
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