Sōsuke Uno

Sōsuke Uno (宇野 宗佑, Uno Sōsuke, 27 August 1922 19 May 1998) was a Japanese politician who was briefly Prime Minister of Japan in 1989. A scandal exposed by the Geisha, Mitsuko Nakanishi, contributed to his premature resignation from office after just sixty-eight days.

Sōsuke Uno
宇 野 宗 佑
Sōsuke Uno
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
3 June 1989  10 August 1989
MonarchAkihito
Preceded byNoboru Takeshita
Succeeded byToshiki Kaifu
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
8 November 1987  3 June 1989
Prime MinisterNoboru Takeshita
Preceded byTadashi Kuranari
Succeeded byHiroshi Mitsuzuka
Minister of International Trade and Industry
In office
10 June 1983  27 November 1983
Prime MinisterYasuhiro Nakasone
Preceded bySadanori Yamanaka
Succeeded byHikosaburo Okonogi
Director General of the Administrative Management Agency
In office
9 November 1979  17 July 1980
Prime MinisterMasayoshi Ōhira
Preceded byMotohiko Kanai
Succeeded byYasuhiro Nakasone
Director General of the Science and Technology Agency
In office
24 December 1976  28 November 1977
Prime MinisterTakeo Fukuda
Preceded byMasao Maeda
Succeeded byTasaburo Kumagai
Director-General of the Japan Defense Agency
In office
11 November 1974  9 December 1974
Prime MinisterKakuei Tanaka
Preceded bySadanori Yamanaka
Succeeded byMichita Sakata
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
20 November 1960  20 October 1996
Personal details
Born(1922-08-27)27 August 1922
Moriyama, Shiga, Empire of Japan
Died19 May 1998(1998-05-19) (aged 75)
Moriyama, Shiga, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic Party
Alma materKobe University of Commerce
Signature
Military career
Allegiance Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1943-1945
RankSecond Lieutenant
Battles/warsSecond World War

Early years

Sōsuke Uno was born in Moriyama, Shiga, the son of a successful brewer. He attended the Kobe University of Commerce after serving as an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. As well as a politician Sōsuke was an accomplished writer, who wrote a book considered classic in Japan about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Siberia.

Political career

In 1960 he entered politics, winning election to the Diet of Japan. Six years later he was promoted to Vice-Minister at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, then similar positions with the Science and Technology Agency, then the Administrative Agency until earning his place in Cabinet as Minister for Trade and Industry and then Foreign Secretary until he was Prime Minister. Whilst Foreign Secretary (in what were conflicted times) he was applauded for his tact as foreign secretary, navigating international demands for increased Japanese contributions to international commerce with stern loyalty to his own nation's interests.

In 1974 he served briefly as Director General of the Japan Defense Agency.

Uno's career reached a peak in the most fraught times his party had seen, as he took the reigns of his party after the Recruit Scandal, when 47 Japanese MPs (including mostly other members from his own Liberal Democrat Party) were found guilty of taking bribes and unfair trading. Of all prime-ministerial candidates, only Uno was free of blame from them, and he was given charge over the party, the government, and Japan. By this stage he had served his country for almost fifty years, and was placed in office on 3 June 1989. The prime minister then resigned after 68 days.

Geisha affair

Uno encountered a public scandal accused by the Geisha, Mitsuko Nakanishi,[1][2] who claimed that he was both irresponsible and stingy to support the Geisha during their four-month affair.

The Geisha Nakanishi further declared in public newspapers that he treated older Geisha women with arrogance and contempt. Nakanishi declared that Uno had paid her US$14,000 in 1985, prior to their affair. Uno was accused for not providing the appropriate fee of ¥300,000 per month, (At the time, approximately US$21,000) for her company of four months, which was seen as very poor etiquette within the Geisha community. Their affair ended in March 1986, though Nakanishi maintained that Uno did not provide a traditional parting gift (fee) for her services as is custom in the Geisha etiquette.

A Washington Post article was published later on, bringing international attention to Uno.[3] Accordingly, some Geisha artisans heavily dismissed the whistleblower Geisha, due to compromising the discreet nature of her affair and engaging with political and economical affairs in the public sphere. Nakanishi later quit the Geisha profession, got remarried and divorced, attended a Shingon Buddhist school temple in Shiga Prefecture and held various jobs onwards. Due to the gravity of the scandal associated with their affair, her son also disowned her during that time.

To avoid further scandal, Sōsuke Uno resigned as prime minister in August 1989, but continued to serve his country in various government posts until he retired fully in 1996. On 29 April 1994, he was awarded with the highest possible honour for a non-head-of-state, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers.[4]

Death

At 72 years of age, Sōsuke Uno then enjoyed a peaceful retirement in Moriyama city. He died in 1998 in his home. He published two collections of Haiku poems, as well as his book on prisonership in Siberia, along with painting, poetry, and music. A year later in 1999, his Geisha affair was highlighted in the Secret Life of Geisha, a TV documentary.[5]

Honours

  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers - (29 April 1994)

References

  1. "Obituary: Sosuke Uno". The Independent. 20 May 1998.
  2. Weisman, Steven R. (10 June 1989). "Ex-Geisha Accuses Uno Of a Dangerous Liaison". The New York Times.
  3. "The Feminist Geisha". Washington Post. 19 July 1989 via www.washingtonpost.com.
  4. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Uno-Sosuke
  5. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0274282/

Further reading

Party political offices
Preceded by
Noboru Takeshita
Head of Youth Division, Liberal Democratic Party
19631966
Succeeded by
Toshiki Kaifu
Preceded by
Masumi Esaki
Head of Diet Affairs Committee, Liberal Democratic Party
19741976
Succeeded by
Toshiki Kaifu
Preceded by
Noboru Takeshita
President of the Liberal Democratic Party
1989
Succeeded by
Toshiki Kaifu
Political offices
Preceded by
Sadanori Yamanaka
Director General of the Japan Defense Agency
1974
Succeeded by
Michita Sakata
Preceded by
Masao Maeda
Director General of the Science and Technology Agency
19761977
Succeeded by
Tasaburo Kumagai
Preceded by
Motohiko Kanai
Director General of the Administrative Management Agency
19791980
Succeeded by
Yasuhiro Nakasone
Preceded by
Sadanori Yamanaka
Minister of International Trade and Industry
1983
Succeeded by
Hikosaburo Okonogi
Preceded by
Tadashi Kuranari
Minister of Foreign Affairs
19871989
Succeeded by
Hiroshi Mitsuzuka
Preceded by
Noboru Takeshita
Prime Minister of Japan
1989
Succeeded by
Toshiki Kaifu
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