Noboru Takeshita

Noboru Takeshita (竹下 登, Takeshita Noboru, 26 February 1924 19 June 2000) was a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 1987 to 1989 during the bubble economy.[1]

Noboru Takeshita
竹下 登
Noboru Takeshita
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
6 November 1987  3 June 1989
Preceded byYasuhiro Nakasone
Succeeded bySōsuke Uno
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
22 May 1958  May 2000
Personal details
Born(1924-02-26)26 February 1924
Kakeyama, Shimane Prefecture, Japan
Died19 June 2000(2000-06-19) (aged 76)
Minato, Tokyo, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic Party
Alma materWaseda University

Takeshita led the largest faction at the time in the Liberal Democratic Party, which he inherited from Kakuei Tanaka, from the 1980s until his death in 2000. He was dubbed the "last shadow shogun" for his behind-the-scenes influence in Japanese politics.[2] He was the last prime minister to serve during the long rule of Emperor Hirohito.[3]

Early life and education

The son of a sake brewer,[4] Takeshita was born in present-day Unnan, Shimane on 26 February 1924 and attended Waseda University.[5]

He married prior to joining the Imperial Japanese Army to serve as an instructor during World War II.[2] His wife committed suicide while he was away for the war, which author Jacob Schlesinger argued made Takeshita obsessive about his composure and highly reserved about showing anger to others.[4]

After the war, he remarried, to Naoko, a distant relative, worked as an English teacher and managed a high school judo team before entering politics in 1951.[2][4] As a young judo competitor, he was known as "master of the draw" for his ability to avoid easy victories over weaker opponents and to avert defeat by stronger opponents.[4]

Political career

Takeshita served as a local assemblyman in Shimane Prefecture from 1951.[2] In the 1958 general election he won a seat in the House of Representatives, joining the powerful faction of Kakuei Tanaka in the Liberal Democratic Party. He was elected at the same time as Shin Kanemaru, and the two remained close allies through their respective political careers.[4] Takeshita eventually became Tanaka's primary fundraiser, traveling the country to garner support for the LDP's coffers. Like Tanaka, Takeshita was fond of "pork barrel" politics, retaining his own seat by bringing excessively huge public works projects to Shimane. Takeshita served as chief cabinet secretary from 1971 to 1974 and as minister of construction in 1976.

Takeshita was the minister of finance from 1979 to 1980, and he again accepted the finance position and was in office from 1982 to 1986. In this period, he achieved prominence as Japan's negotiator during deliberations which led to the agreement which is known as the Plaza Accord in New York.[6] In the period Takeshita was finance minister, the Yen appreciated relative to other international currencies. The rise of the strong Yen (Yendaka) enhanced Japan's status as a financial powerhouse[7] and led to the Japanese asset price bubble of the 1980s.[2]

Kakuei Tanaka was arrested in connection with the Lockheed bribery scandals in 1976 and found guilty by a lower court in 1983, placing pressure on his political strength. In February 1985, Takeshita formed a "study group" called Soseikai, which counted among its ranks 43 of the 121 Tanaka faction members. Weeks after this defection, Tanaka suffered a stroke and became hospitalized, sparking further uncertainty over the future of his faction.[8] Tanaka never recovered from his stroke, and by July 1987, Takeshita's faction counted 113 of the 143 Tanaka faction members, while only thirteen supported Takeshita's rival Susumu Nikaido.[9] The Tanaka faction members who moved to Takeshita's faction included Ichiro Ozawa, Tsutomu Hata, Ryutaro Hashimoto, Keizo Obuchi and Kozo Watanabe.[10]

In July 1986 Takeshita left the Cabinet and was named to the key post of secretary general of the party.

In November 1987, Takeshita became president of the LDP and was thus elected Prime Minister of Japan, replacing Yasuhiro Nakasone. Among the highlights of the period in which Takeshita led the government, he acknowledged that Japan had been an aggressor during World War II. This statement was part of a speech in the Japanese Diet.[3]

He was mainly remembered within Japan for implementing the country's first consumption tax, which his government forced through the Diet in 1988 amid public opposition.[2] Takeshita's government also passed legislation liberalizing the beef, citrus and rice markets, and passed an enhanced security pact with the United States, with the support of Shin Kanemaru who bought the opposition's support.[4]

The Recruit scandal forced Takeshita to resign in 1989.[11]

Later years and death

Although Takeshita was accused of insider trading and corruption, he was never charged and was able to retain his seat in the Diet until shortly before his death.[2] He remained a major behind-the-scenes player in the LDP, mentoring future prime ministers Sōsuke Uno, Toshiki Kaifu, and Keizō Obuchi. Tsutomu Hata and Ichiro Ozawa left Takeshita's faction to form the Japan Renewal Party. Keizo Obuchi inherited what was left of the faction, supported the election of Ryutaro Hashimoto as prime minister, and himself became prime minister from 1999 to 2000; he died of a stroke in early 2000 and Hashimoto took over control of the faction.[12]

Takeshita himself died of respiratory failure in June 2000 after over a year in hospital, during which time he was said to have "masterminded" the coalition between the LDP and New Komeito and to have arranged the election of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori from his hospital bed. He had planned to retire from the Diet as of the 2000 general election, which occurred just days after his death.[2] The Economist characterized his death as the end of an era that was "a dizzy mixture of brilliance and corruption" in Japanese politics.[4]

Hashimoto led the former Takeshita faction until refusing to stand in the 2005 general election due to a fundraising scandal, and died shortly thereafter. The remnants of the faction, formally known by this time as Heisei Kenkyūkai (Heisei Research Council), remained active under the leadership of Yūji Tsushima, who resigned prior to the 2009 general election, passing control to Fukushiro Nukaga. The faction raised much less in donations during the 1990s and 2000s than it did under Tanaka and Takeshita in the 1980s, as electoral reforms enacted in 1994, coupled with new campaign finance regulations and the ongoing economic slump that followed the Japanese asset price bubble, weakened the power of factions in Japanese politics.[12]

Personal life

Takeshita was twice married, and survived by three daughters and several grandchildren,[4] including singer Daigo (formerly known as Daigo☆Stardust)[13] and his elder sister, manga artist Eiki Eiki.[14]



  1. French, Howard W. "Noboru Takeshita, Premier Who Guided Political Power in Japan, Is Dead at 76," New York Times. 19 June 2000.
  2. "Noboru Takeshita; Last 'Shadow Shogun'". Los Angeles Times. 19 June 2000. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  3. Sanger, David E. "Takeshita Now Admits World War II Aggression," New York Times. 7 March 1989.
  4. "Noboru Takeshita". The Economist. 22 June 2000. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  5. "Noboru Takeshita" The Telegraph (London). 20 June 2000.
  6. Kilborn, Peter T. "U.S. and 4 Allies Plan Move to Cut Value of Dollar," The New York Times. 23 September 1985.
  7. Chira, Susan. "International Report: a Year After Plaza Accord, Currency Issues Remain Divisive; Impact on Japanese is Wide; American Hopes Unfulfilled," The New York Times. 22 September 1986.
  8. Jameson, Sam (18 May 1985). "Ailing, Hurt by Scandal, Japan's Tanaka Faces a New Struggle in Party". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  9. Jameson, Sam (29 July 1987). "Conviction of Former Japanese Leader Tanaka Upheld". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  10. 高木, 桂一 (23 December 2011). "自民党田中派「秘書軍団」が集結した師走の夜". MSN Sankei News. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  11. MacLeod, Scott; Barry Hillenbrand and Kumiko Makihara. "Japan Sand in a Well-Oiled Machine," Time. 8 May 1989.
  12. Matthew Carlson, in Gaunder, Alisa (2011). Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics. Taylor & Francis. pp. 75–77. ISBN 9781136818387.
  13. Musician Daigo an Y85 million man for a day
  14. ja:影木栄貴
  15. From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
Political offices
Preceded by
Shigeru Hori
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Succeeded by
Susumu Nikaido
Preceded by
Susumu Nikaido
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Succeeded by
Ichitaro Ide
Preceded by
Yasuhiro Nakasone
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Sōsuke Uno
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kimiyoshi Amano
Head of Youth Division, Liberal Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Sosuke Uno
Preceded by
Shin Kanemaru
Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Shintaro Abe
Preceded by
Yasuhiro Nakasone
President of the Liberal Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Sosuke Uno
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