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Kiichi Miyazawa

Kiichi Miyazawa, Japan Premier in the ’90s, Dies at 87

Kiichi Miyazawa 44%

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Kiichi Miyazawa (David Guttenfelder/Associated Press, 2001)

 

Kiichi Miyazawa, who, as prime minister and holder of many other top government posts, helped guide Japan from postwar ruin to economic superpower, died yesterday at his home in Tokyo. He was 87.

Shigeru Muta, an aide to Mr. Miyazawa’s nephew, Yoichi Miyazawa, a Japanese lawmaker, announced the death, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Miyazawa emerged from a wealthy and politically powerful family to attain influence as an aide to policy makers who fashioned Japan’s immediate postwar recovery and went on to hold important cabinet posts, including that of foreign minister, before becoming prime minister in November 1991.

In his two years at the head of the government, he pushed for better ties with Japan’s Asian neighbors and was the first Japanese prime minister to acknowledge the involvement of the nation’s military in forcing Asian women to serve as sex slaves for soldiers.

His government passed a watershed law paving the way for Japan to send peacekeeping troops overseas, but resisted more profound changes in the pacifist Constitution. He negotiated a major trade accord with the United States and instituted banking reforms as he battled a gathering economic malaise that would endure for a decade.

As finance minister in 1986 and 1987, he won popularity with high levels of public works spending, financing some of it through privatization of government companies.

To Americans he was vividly etched in the public consciousness when in 1992, President Bush fell ill at a banquet during a trip to Japan and vomited on him. The prime minister cradled the head of the flu-stricken president in his lap afterward.

Mr. Miyazawa was long known as a shrewd backroom operator who seriously contended for the office of prime minister beginning in the late 1970s.

He occupied the fuzzy borderline where his Liberal Democratic Party intersected with business interests. His rise was perceived as a return to old-style politics, signifying indifference to reforms being proposed at the time he became prime minister, The New York Times suggested at the time in an analytical article.

His career was thought to have ended in December 1988, when he was forced to resign as finance minister because of his involvement in a corporate influence-peddling scandal. In 1993 he was ousted as prime minister after he could not pass political reform bills he had promised. That ended the Liberal Democratic Party&rsqu. ;s 38 consecutive years of rule.

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Published: June 29, 2007

By DOUGLAS MARTIN

Read more: The New York Times

05.10.2010


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