Hitoshi Ashida

Hitoshi Ashida (芦田 均, Ashida Hitoshi, 15 November 1887 – 20 June 1959) was a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan in 1948. He was a prominent figure in the immediate postwar political landscape, but was forced to resign his leadership responsibilities after a corruption scandal (Shōwa Denkō Jiken) targeting two of his cabinet ministers.

Hitoshi Ashida
芦田 均
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
10 March 1948  15 October 1948
GovernorDouglas MacArthur
Preceded byTetsu Katayama
Succeeded byShigeru Yoshida
Personal details
Born(1887-11-15)15 November 1887
Fukuchiyama, Japan
Died20 June 1959(1959-06-20) (aged 71)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic Party (1955–1959)
Other political
Constitutional Association of Political Friendship (Before 1945)
Liberal Party (1945–1947)
Democratic Party (1947–1950)
People's Democratic Party (1950–1952)
Kaishinto(Reformative Progressive Party) (1952–1954)
Japan Democratic Party (1954–1955)
Alma materTokyo Imperial University

Early political life

Ashida was born in Fukuchiyama, Kyoto, and studied French civil law at Tokyo Imperial University. After graduation, he worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for twenty years.

In 1932, Ashida ran his first successful campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives as a member of the Seiyūkai Party. He sided with Ichirō Hatoyama's "orthodox" wing following the Seiyukai's split in 1939.

After the war, Ashida won a seat in the new Diet as a member of the Liberal Party,from which he split to merge with Kijūrō Shidehara's Progressive Party to form the Democratic Party. Ashida was elected president of the new party, and became Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1947 under Socialist prime minister Tetsu Katayama.

He also chaired the Committee on the Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution, and served as the chairman of the Kenpō Fukyū Kai, a society created to promote the revised Constitution of Japan, from 1946-1948.[1][2] During his term, he made a key amendment to Article Nine of the planned Japanese Constitution, which enabled the creation of the Japanese Self-Defense Force.[3]

Prime Minister and later life

Ashida became prime minister in 1948, leading a coalition government of Democratic and Socialist members. His tenure ended just seven months after it began. Two of his cabinet ministers were accused of corruption in the Showa Electric scandal, which forced the cabinet to resign.[4]

Ten years later, in 1958, Ashida was cleared of all charges in relation to the incident. He died a year later at the age of seventy-one.


  1. "Alfred Hussey, Memorandum on Program for Publicizing the new Japanese Constitution, February 5, 1947". Birth of the Japanese Constitution. National Diet Library of Japan. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  2. "The Constitution of Japan (The Official Gazettes, a Special Edition)". World Digital Library. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  3. Fumiko Sasaki (26 July 2012). Nationalism, Political Realism and Democracy in Japan: The thought of Masao Maruyama. Routledge. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-136-31378-3. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  4. Masaru Kōno (1997). Japan's postwar party politics. Princeton University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-691-01596-5. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
Political offices
Preceded by
Shigeru Yoshida
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Shigeru Yoshida
Preceded by
Tetsu Katayama
Prime Minister of Japan
Preceded by
Kijūrō Shidehara
Minister of State: Deputy Prime Minister
Succeeded by
Suehiro Nishio
Preceded by
Kenzō Matsumura
Minister for Health and Welfare
Succeeded by
Yoshinari Kawai
House of Representatives of Japan
New district Representative for Kyoto 2nd district
Served alongside: Yoshie Ōishi, Shigesaburō Maeo, many others
Title next held by
Sen'ichi Tanigaki etc.
New district Representative for Kyoto At-large district
Served alongside: Chōzaburō Mizutani, Fusa Tomita, Isaji Tanaka, Yoshie Ōishi, Takeo Nakano, Katsumi Takeuchi, Hanji Ogawa, Chiyo Kimura, Taminouke Tsujii
district eliminated
Preceded by
Takeshi Tsuhara
Kunikichi Murakami
San'ichirō Mizushima
Representative for Kyoto 3rd district
Served alongside: Momozō Nagata, San'ichirō Mizushima, Takeshi Tsuhara, Kunikichi Murakami, Keijirō Okada
district eliminated
Party political offices
New political party President of the Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Takeru Inukai
Preceded by
Nirō Hoshijima
PARC chairman of the Japan Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Seiichi Ōmura
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