Junichiro Koizumi

Junichiro Koizumi
Enlarge picture
Junichiro Koizumi

MonarchAkihito
Preceded by
Succeeded by

Political partyLiberal Democratic Party
ReligionBuddhism and Shinto

Junichiro Koizumi (小泉 純一郎 Koizumi Jun'ichirō, born January 8, 1942) is a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006.

Widely seen as a maverick leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), he became known as an economic reformer, focusing on Japan's government debt and the privatization of its postal service. In 2005, Koizumi led the LDP to win one of the largest parliamentary majorities in modern Japanese history.

Koizumi also attracted international attention through his deployment of the Japan Self-Defense Forces to Iraq, the first foreign deployment of the Japanese military since World War II, and his visits to Yasukuni Shrine which led to diplomatic tensions with China and South Korea.

Early life

Koizumi is a third-generation politician. His father, Junya Koizumi, was director general of the Japan Defense Agency and a member of the Diet. His grandfather, Matajiro Koizumi, was Minister of Posts and Telecommunications under Prime Ministers Hamaguchi and Wakatsuki and an early advocate of postal privatization. See Koizumi family.

Born in Yokosuka on January 8, 1942, Koizumi was educated at Yokosuka High School and Keio University, where he studied economics. He attended University College, London before returning to Japan in August 1969 upon the death of his father. He stood for election to the lower house in December; however, he did not earn enough votes to win election as a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) representative. In 1970, he was hired as a secretary to Takeo Fukuda, who was Minister of Finance at the time and would go on to become Prime Minister in 1976.

In the general elections of December 1972, Koizumi was elected as a member of the Lower House for the 11th District of Kanagawa Prefecture. He joined Fukuda's faction within the LDP. Since then, he has been re-elected ten times.

Member of House of Representatives

Koizumi gained his first senior post in 1979 as Parliamentary Vice Minister of Finance, and his first ministerial post in 1988 as Minister of Health and Welfare under Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita. He held cabinet posts again in 1992 (Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in the Miyazawa cabinet) and 1996–1998 (Minister of Health and Welfare in the Uno and Hashimoto cabinets).

In 1994, with the LDP in opposition, Koizumi became part of a new LDP faction, Shinseiki, made up of younger and more motivated parliamentarians led by Taku Yamasaki, Koichi Kato and Koizumi, a group popularly dubbed "YKK." He competed for the presidency of the LDP in September 1995 and July 1999, but he gained little support losing decisively to Ryutaro Hashimoto and then Keizo Obuchi, both of whom had broader bases of support within the party. However, after Yamasaki and Kato were humiliated in a disastrous attempt to force a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in 2000, Koizumi became the last remaining credible member of the YKK trio, which gave him leverage over the reform-minded wing of the party.

On April 24, 2001, Koizumi was elected president of the LDP. He was initially considered an outside candidate against Hashimoto, who was running for his second term as Prime Minister. However, in the first poll of prefectural party organizations, Koizumi won 87 to 11 percent; in the second vote of Diet members, Koizumi won 51 to 40 percent. He defeated Hashimoto by a final tally of 298 to 155 votes.[1] He was made Prime Minister of Japan on April 26, and his coalition secured 78 of 121 seats in the Upper House elections in July.

Prime Minister

Domestic policy

Within Japan, Koizumi pushed for new ways to revitalise the moribund economy, aiming to act against bad debts with commercial banks, privatize the postal savings system, and reorganise the factional structure of the LDP. He spoke of the need for a period of painful restructuring in order to improve the future.

In the fall of 2002, Koizumi appointed Keio University economist and frequent television commentator Heizo Takenaka as Minister of State for Financial Services and head of the Financial Services Agency (FSA) to fix the country's banking crisis. Bad debts of banks were dramatically cut with the NPL ratio of major banks approaching half the level of 2001. The Japanese economy has been through a slow but steady recovery, and the stock market has dramatically rebounded. The GDP growth for 2004 was one of the highest among G7 nations, according to the IMF and OECD. Takenaka was appointed as a Postal Reform Minister in 2004 for the privatization of Japan Post, operator of the country's Postal Savings system.

Koizumi moved the LDP away from its traditional rural agrarian base toward a more urban, neoliberal core, as Japan's population grew in major cities and declined in less populated areas, although under current purely geographical districting, rural votes in Japan are still many times more powerful than urban ones. In addition to the privatization of Japan Post (which many rural residents fear will reduce their access to basic services such as banking), Koizumi also slowed down the LDP's heavy subsidies for infrastructure and industrial development in rural areas. These tensions made Koizumi a controversial but popular figure within his own party and among the Japanese electorate.

Foreign policy

Enlarge picture
Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush meet at the White House on September 25, 2001


Although Koizumi's foreign policy was focused on closer relations with the United States and UN-centered diplomacy, which were adopted by all of his predecessors, he went further to pursue supporting the US policies in the War on Terrorism. He decided to deploy the Japan Self-Defense Forces to Iraq, which was the first military mission in active foreign war zones since the end of the World War II. Many Japanese commentators indicated that the favorable US-Japan relation was based on the Koizumi's personal friendship with the US President George W. Bush. In the North Korean abductions and nuclear development issues, he took more assertive attitudes than his predecessors and this policy won approval by many voters[2].

Self-Defense Forces policy

Although Koizumi did not initially campaign on the issue of defense reform<ref name="anderson" />, he approved the expansion of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and in October 2001 they were given greater scope to operate outside of the country. Some of these troops were dispatched to Iraq, though only to carry out non-combat duties. Koizumi's government also introduced a bill to upgrade the Japan Defense Agency to ministry status; finally, the Defense Agency became the Japanese Ministry of Defense in January 9, 2007.[3]
Enlarge picture
Koizumi meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2004

Visits to Yasukuni Shrine

Koizumi has often been noted for his controversial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, starting on August 13, 2001. He visited the shrine six times as prime minister. Because the shrine honors many convicted Japanese war criminals, including 14 executed Class A war criminals, these visits drew strong condemnation and protests from both Japan's neighbours, mainly China and South Korea, and, indeed, many from within Japan itself. These countries still hold bitter memories of Japanese invasion and occupation during the first half of the 20th century. As a result, China and South Korea refused to meet Koizumi in Japan and their countries, and there were no mutual visits between Chinese and Japanese leaders from October 2001, and between South Korean and Japanese leaders from June 2005. The standstill ended when the next prime minister Abe visited China and South Korea in October 2006.

In China, the visits led to massive anti-Japanese riots. The president, ruling and opposition parties, and much of the media of South Korea openly condemned the visits regardless of their political positions. [4] Speeches that criticized Japan were applauded by many Koreans despite the South Korean President's low popularity. When Koizumi was asked about such speeches, Koizumi stated these are "for the domestic (audience)".

Although Koizumi signed the shrine's visitor book as "Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister of Japan", he claimed that his visits to the shrine were as a private citizen and not an endorsement of any political stance.[5] These claims were scoffed as ineffective excuses in China and Korea. Several journals and news reports in Japan, such as one published by Kyodo News Agency on August 15, 2006, questioned the validity of the claim that Koizumi was visiting as a private citizen, as he recorded his name on the shrine's guestbook as prime minister, and visited the shrine yearly as part of his campaign pledge, which was political in nature.

Koizumi revisited the shrine again in August 15, 2007, after having resigned as prime minister, to mark the 62nd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two. However, his 2007 visit was met with less attention from the media than on prior occasions.[6][7]

Statements on World War II

On August 15, 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II, Koizumi publicly stated that Japan was deeply saddened by the suffering it caused during World War II and vowed Japan would never again take "the path to war". [1] However, Koizumi was criticized for actions which allegedly ran contrary to this expression of remorse (e.g. the Yasukuni visits), which resulted in worsening relations with China and South Korea.

Popularity

Enlarge picture
Koizumi meets children in Sea Island, Georgia, shortly before the 2004 G8 summit.
Initially Koizumi was at certain points in his tenure an extremely popular leader, with his outspoken nature and colourful past. His nicknames included "Lionheart", due to his hair style and fierce spirit, and "Maverick".<ref name="anderson" /> During his tenure in office, it was common for the Japanese public to refer to him as "Jun-chan". In June 2001, he enjoyed an approval rating of 85 percent, with only 7 percent disapproving.[8]

In January 2002, he sacked his popular but volatile Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, replacing her with Yoriko Kawaguchi. By April, following an economic slump and a series of LDP scandals that claimed the career of YKK member Koichi Kato, Koizumi's popularity rating had fallen 40 percentage points since his nomination as prime minister.[9]

Koizumi was re-elected in 2003 and his popularity surged as the economy recovered. His proposal to cut pension benefits as a move to fiscal reform, however, turned out to be highly unpopular. Also, his two visits to North Korea to solve the issue of abducted Japanese nationals only somewhat raised his popularity, as he could not secure the return of many abductees to Japan. This restricted his administration's approval rating in the House of Councilors elections in 2004 to being only marginally better than the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

In 2005, the House of Councilors rejected the contentious postal privatization bills. Koizumi previously made it clear that he would dissolve the lower house if the bill failed to pass. The Democratic Party, while expressing support for the privatization, made a tactical vote against the bill. Fifty-one LDP members also either voted against the bills or abstained.

On August 8, 2005, Koizumi, as promised, dissolved the House of Representatives and called for snap elections. He also expelled rebel LDP members for not supporting the bill. The LDP's chances for success were initially uncertain; the secretary general of New Komeito (a junior coalition partner with Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party) said that his party would entertain forming a coalition government with the Democratic Party of Japan if the DPJ took a majority in the House of Representatives.[10]

Koizumi's popularity rose almost twenty points after he dissolved the House and expelled rebel LDP members, with opinion polls placing the government's approval ratings between 51 and 59 percent. The electorate saw the election in terms of a vote for or against the reform (privatisation), which the Democratic Party and rebel LDP members were seen as being against.

The September 2005 elections were the LDP's largest victory since 1986, giving the party a large majority in the House of Representatives and nullifying opposing voices in the House of Councilors. In the following Diet session, the last to be held under Koizumi's government, the LDP passed 82 of its 91 proposed bills, including postal privatization.<ref name="june06" />

Resignation

Koizumi announced that he would step down from office in 2006, per LDP rules, and would not personally choose a successor as many LDP prime ministers have in the past. On September 20, 2006, Shinzo Abe was elected to succeed Koizumi as president of the LDP. Abe succeeded Koizumi as prime minister on September 26, 2006.

Personal life

Koizumi married 21-year-old university student Kayoko Miyamoto in 1978 under the omiai custom. The ceremony at the Tokyo Prince Hotel was attended by about 2,500 people, including Fukuda (then Prime Minister), and featured a wedding cake shaped like the National Diet Building.[11]

The marriage ended in divorce in 1982. Kayoko was unhappy with her lifestyle and Koizumi did not see Kayoko as a viable political wife.[11] After this divorce, Koizumi never married again, saying that divorce consumed ten times more energy than marriage.[12]

Two of his three sons (Kotaro Koizumi and Shinjiro Koizumi) were kept in Koizumi's custody and raised by one of Koizumi's sisters. Although Kayoko claims that she was to be allowed to see her two sons once they reach the age of 16, this did not happen and she has not been able to see them since the divorce. The youngest, Yoshinaga Miyamoto, a student at Keio University, was born following the divorce[13] and has never met Koizumi. This third son is known to have attended one of Koizumi's rallies, but was also turned away when trying to meet his father by attending his grandmother's funeral.[14]

Enlarge picture
Koizumi, hosted by U.S. President George W. Bush, at Graceland in 2006
Koizumi is a fan of Richard Wagner, X Japan, and the Japanese pop band Morning Musume, and has released a CD of his favorite pieces by contemporary Italian composer Ennio Morricone.[15].

Koizumi is also a noted fan of Elvis Presley, with whom he shares a birthday (January 8). In 2001 he released a collection of his favorite Elvis songs on CD with his comments about each song. His brother is Senior Advisor of the Tokyo Elvis Fan Club. Koizumi and his brother helped finance a statue of Elvis in Tokyo's Harajuku district. On June 30, 2006, he visited the rock legend's former estate, Graceland, accompanied by U.S. President George W. Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush. After arriving in Memphis aboard Air Force One, they headed to Graceland. While there, Koizumi briefly sang a few bars of his favourite Elvis tunes, whilst warmly impersonating Presley, mimicking his characteristic hand movements and leg shakes, and wearing Presley's trademark oversized golden sunglasses.[16]

Koizumi also seems to be a fan of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. He and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen visited the Sibelius' home on September 8, 2006. There Koizumi showed respect to the deceased composer with a moment of silence. He also owns reproductions of all seven symphonies by Sibelius.

Koizumi cabinets

First
(April 26, 2001)
First, Realigned
(September 30, 2002)
Second
(November 19, 2003)
Second, Realigned
(September 22, 2004)
Third, Realigned
(2005-10-31)
Secretary Yasuo Fukuda 4Hiroyuki HosodaShinzo Abe
Internal Affairs Toranosuke KatayamaTaro AsoHeizo Takenaka 3
Justice Mayumi MoriyamaDaizo NozawaChieko NohnoSeiken Sugiura
Foreign AffairsMakiko Tanaka 1Yoriko KawaguchiNobutaka MachimuraTaro Aso
Finance Masajuro ShiokawaSadakazu Tanigaki
Education Atsuko ToyamaTakeo KawamuraNariaki NakayamaKenji Kosaka
Health Chikara SakaguchiHidehisa OtsujiJiro Kawasaki
AgricultureTsutomu TakebeTadamori Oshima 2Yoshiyuki KameiYoshinobu ShimamuraShoichi Nakagawa
Economy Takeo HiranumaShoichi NakagawaToshihiro Nikai
Land Chikage OogiNobuteru IshiharaKazuo Kitagawa
EnvironmentHiroshi Oki 1Shunichi SuzukiYuriko Koike
Public Safety Jin MuraiSadakazu TanigakiKiyoko OnoYoshitaka MurataTetsuo Kutsukake
Disaster PreventionYoshitada KonoikeKiichi Inoue
DefenseGen NakataniShigeru IshibaYoshinori OnoFukushiro Nukaga
Economic PolicyHeizo Takenaka 3Heizo TakenakaHeizo TakenakaKaoru Yosano
Financial AffairsHakuo YanagisawaTatsuya Ito
Admin. and Reg. Reform Nobuteru IshiharaKazuyoshi KanekoSeiichiro MurakamiKoki Chuma
TechnologyKoji OmiHiroyuki HosodaToshimitsu MotegiYasufumi TanahashiIwao Matsuda
Youth and Gender Kuniko Inoguchi


Notes:
  1. Makiko Tanaka was fired on January 29, 2002. Koizumi served as interim foreign minister until February 1, when he appointed then-environment minister Yoriko Kawaguchi to the post. Koizumi appointed Hiroshi Oki to replace Kawaguchi.
  2. Oshima resigned on March 31, 2003 due to a farm-subsidy scandal. He was replaced by Kamei, who was kept in the next reshuffle.
  3. Takenaka has also held the portfolio of Minister of State for Postal Privatization since the first Koizumi cabinet. He is the only person to serve on Koizumi's cabinet through all five reshuffles.
  4. Fukuda resigned on May 7, 2004 and was replaced by Hosoda.

References

1. ^ Anderson, Gregory E., "Lionheart or Paper Tiger? A First-term Koizumi Retrospective," Asian Perspective 28:149–182, March 2004.
2. ^ "[2]"'「自衛隊のイラク人道復興支援活動に関する特別世論調査」の概要', Cabinet Office of Japan
3. ^ "Diet closes for summer, puts lid on Koizumi legacy," Japan Times (registration required), June 17, 2006.
4. ^ "Lawmakers visit Japanese Embassy to protest Koizumi's planned Seoul trip," The Korea Herald, October 12, 2001.
5. ^ "Koizumi not backing down on Yasukuni," The Japan Times (registration required), January 26, 2006.
6. ^ Yahoo news
7. ^ Former Japanese PM Koizumi Visits War Shrine in Tokyo (Update4)
8. ^ Koizumi's popularity hits fresh peak, CNN.com, June 12 2001.
9. ^ "Koizumi ally quits politics over scandal," BBC News, April 8 2002.
10. ^ "New Komeito exec signals willingness to jump LDP ship," The Japan Times (registration required), July 28, 2005.
11. ^ "Japan's Destroyer," TIME, 10 September 2001.
12. ^ "[Koizumi's ex-wife ready to lend a hand, has 'nothing to lose']," Kyodo News, May 9 2001.
13. ^ "[For Japanese, a Typical Tale of Divorce]," Washington Post, May 19, 2001.
14. ^ Japanese PM keeps lost son at bay," '"The Times'', September 4, 2005.
15. ^ Watashi no daisuki na morrikone myujikku, ASIN B000ALJ04G. Amazon link
16. ^ Singing Japan PM tours Graceland, BBC News, June 30, 2006.

See also

  • Richard Lloyd Parry, "Enigma behind Koizumi's winning smile", Times supplement to the Daily Yomiuri, Sunday, September 18, 2005, p.15

External links

Preceded by
Yoshiro Mori
Prime Minister of Japan
2001-2006
Succeeded by
Shinzo Abe
Preceded by
Makiko Tanaka
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
2002
Succeeded by
Yoriko Kawaguchi


Akihito
Emperor of Japan

Reign 7 January, 1989 - Present
Coronation 12 November, 1990
Born November 23 1933 (1933--) (age 75)
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Buddhism is often described as a religion[1] and a collection of various philosophies, based initially on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as Gautama Buddha.
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Shinto (神道 shintō
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Japan

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Maverick, a term suggesting independence of thought or action, can refer to:

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Japan Post
日本郵政公社


Government-owned
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history of Japan began with brief appearances in Chinese history texts from the first century AD. However, archaeological research indicates that people were living on the islands of Japan as early as the upper paleolithic period.
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Motto
الله أكبر    (Arabic)
"Allahu Akbar"   (transliteration)
"God is the Greatest"
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홍익인간(弘益人間) 널리 인간을 이롭게 하?
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Aegukga (애국가; 愛國歌)
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Japan

This article is part of the series:
Politics of Japan


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Koizumi family has been prominent in Japanese politics since the early 1900s. Notable members of this family include:
  • Matajiro Koizumi (1865 - 1951) – Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, he was known as the "wild man" and "tattoo minister" because of a large

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Keio University (慶應義塾大学 Keiō gijuku daigaku
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University College London, commonly known as UCL, is the oldest multi-faculty constituent college of the University of London, one of the two original founding colleges, and the first British University to be founded on a non-religious basis.
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Noboru Takeshita (竹下 登 Takeshita Noboru, February 26, 1924–June 19, 2000) was a Japanese politician and the 74th Prime Minister of Japan from November 6, 1987 to June 3, 1989.
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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.
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Taku Yamasaki (山崎 拓; Yamasaki Taku, December 11, 1936) is a Japanese politician, a member of the House of Representatives of Japan. Born in Dalian, Manchukuo, he was blinded in one eye as a child. He is a graduate of Waseda University.
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Koichi Kato (加藤 紘一; Katō Kōichi June 17, 1939 -) is a Japanese politician . Born in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture, he is a member of the House of Representatives and the Liberal Democratic Party.
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