More than anything else what is needed in Japan today is to strive forward steadfastly with the implementation of reforms in a spirit of persevering through the difficulties of the present in order to build a better tomorrow. Whether or not we will greet this new century emboldened with the courage to build a future full of hope for our nation depends on the determination of each and every one of our people to carry out the reforms that are needed.
- Remarks to the First Session of the 154th Diet
Koizumi Junichirô, the prime minister of Japan
, was born in Yokosuka
Prefecture, on January 8, 1942
. He graduated from Keio University
in 1967 with an Economics
degree, and enrolled at the London School of Economics
for his master's. In 1970, he joined the ruling Liberal Democratic Party
by becoming Fukuda Takeo
's secretary: the experience warmed him to politics, and he won his first race for the House of Representatives
After running through the obligatory list of party posts, he entered the cabinet in 1988 as Minister of Health and Welfare under Takeshita Noboru. He held this position under Hashimoto Ryutaro as well, after a brief stint as Minister of Posts and Telecommunications under Miyazawa Kiichi. While on the Miyazawa cabinet, in 1995, he made his first unsuccessful bid for the presidency of the LDP. In 2001, however, following the scandalous gaffes of Mori Yoshiro, Koizumi decided to give the kantei another run, and was cleanly elected.
As the other writeups in this node explain in greater detail, Koizumi is a vocal reformer of Japan's many convoluted government systems, especially its postal savings system. Since becoming prime minister, he hasn't accomplished much: most of his reform attempts have been blockaded by a stalwart Diet. That hasn't stopped him from keeping his mouth running.
He enjoys favor with the White House for publicly supporting the war in Afghanistan, but Asian leaders are less fond of him due to his constant visits to Yasukuni Shrine, and his tendency to favor a more active role for Japan on the world stage, which some see as a sign of remilitarization.
He has published five essay collections:
郵政省解体論 Reforming the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (1994)
官僚王国解体論 Reforming the Kanryo Kingdom (1996)
暴論・青論 Reality in an "Unrealistic" Debate (1997)
郵政民営化論 Privatizing the Postal Service (1999)
コイズム Koizumiism (2001)
He claims to be influenced by Winston Churchill, Yoshida Shoin, Takasugi Shinsaku, and Oda Nobunaga. His favorite quotation, taken from the Analects of Confucius, is 無信不立 mushin furitsu, "unbelievers cannot stand."
Another component of Koizumi's popularity is that women find him attractive—he bears a fairly strong resemblance to Richard Gere. One of Japan's best-selling books in the last couple of years was a pictorial biography of Koizumi called Koizumi, and the following real review from Amazon.co.jp pretty much tells you everything you need to know:
先日小泉首相の夢をみました。 目がさめた時私はうっとりと幸せな気分にひたっておりました。 この写真集は永遠に私のBIBLEとなるでしょう。 いつも一緒です。
The other day, I saw Prime Minister Koizumi in a dream. When I closed my eyes, I was in a trance, soaked in this wonderful happy feeling. This photo album will be my bible for eternity. We'll always be together...
No, I am not making this up
Koizumi's current cabinet:
On September 20, 2003, Koizumi was re-elected as president of the LDP, with 60% of the party's vote. He will remain at the head of the party for the next three years, meaning that he will remain prime minister as long as the LDP-New Komeito-New Conservative Party coalition does not lose its majority in the Diet.
Koizumi resigned as prime minister on September 26, 2006 and was replaced by his Chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe.
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