Ryutaro Hashimoto

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Ryutaro Hashimoto
橋本 龍太郎
Hashimoto Ryūtarō.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
11 January 1996 – 30 July 1998
Monarch Akihito
Deputy Wataru Kubo
Preceded by Tomiichi Murayama
Succeeded by Keizō Obuchi
Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
In office
2 October 1995 – 11 January 1996
Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
Preceded by Yōhei Kōno
Succeeded by Wataru Kubo
Minister of Finance
In office
28 January 1998 – 30 January 1998
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
Preceded by Hiroshi Mitsuzuka
Succeeded by Hikaru Matsunaga
In office
10 August 1989 – 14 October 1991
Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu
Preceded by Tatsuo Murayama
Succeeded by Toshiki Kaifu (Acting)
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
In office
30 June 1994 – 11 January 1996
Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
Preceded by Eijiro Hata
Succeeded by Shunpei Tsukahara
Minister of Transport
In office
22 July 1986 – 6 November 1987
Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone
Preceded by Hiroshi Mitsuzuka
Succeeded by Shintaro Ishihara
Minister of Health
In office
7 December 1978 – 9 November 1979
Prime Minister Masayoshi Ōhira
Preceded by Tatsuo Ozawa
Succeeded by Kyoichi Noro
Personal details
Born (1937-07-29)29 July 1937
Sōja, Japan
Died 1 July 2006(2006-07-01) (aged 68)
Tokyo, Japan
Political party Liberal Democratic Party
Children Gaku Hashimoto
Alma mater Keio University

Ryutaro Hashimoto (橋本 龍太郎 Hashimoto Ryūtarō?, 29 July 1937 – 1 July 2006) was a Japanese politician who served as the 82nd and 83rd Prime Minister of Japan from 11 January 1996 to 30 July 1998. He was the leader of one of the largest factions within the ruling LDP through most of the 1990s and remained a powerful back-room player in Japanese politics until scandal forced him to resign his leadership position in 2004. Disgraced, he chose not to stand in the general election of 2005, and effectively retired from politics. He died on 1 July 2006 at a Tokyo hospital.

Early political life

He was born in Sōja, Okayama. His father, Ryōgo Hashimoto, was a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. Following his father's lead, Ryutaro received his degree in political science from Keio University in 1960, and was elected to the House of Representatives of Japan in 1963.

He moved through the ranks of the Liberal Democratic Party over the next twenty years, landing a spot as Minister of Health and Welfare under premier Masayoshi Ōhira in 1978, and in 1980 became the LDP's director of finance and public administration. He again became a cabinet minister in 1986 under Yasuhiro Nakasone, and in 1989 became secretary general of the LDP, the highest rank short of prime minister.

Hashimoto became a key figure in the strong LDP faction founded by Kakuei Tanaka in the 1970s, which later fell into the hands of Noboru Takeshita, who then was tainted by the Recruit scandal of 1988. The LDP momentarily lost power following the collapse of the bubble economy, and in 1991, the press discovered that one of Hashimoto's secretaries had been involved in an illegal financial dealing. Hashimoto retired as Minister of Finance, but was almost immediately brought back to the cabinet, this time under coalition premier Tomiichi Murayama as Minister of International Trade and Industry. As the chief of MITI, Hashimoto made himself known at meetings of APEC and at summit conferences.

Prime minister

When Murayama stepped down in 1996, the LDP elected Hashimoto to become Japan's next prime minister.

Hashimoto reached an agreement with the United States for the repatriation of MCAS Futenma, a controversial U.S. military base in an urban area of Okinawa, in April 1996. The deal was opposed by Japan's foreign ministry and defense agency but was backed by Hashimoto's American counterpart, President Bill Clinton. The repatriation of the base has yet to be completed as of 2015, as Okinawans have opposed efforts to relocate the base to a new site.[1]

Hashimoto's popularity was largely based on his attitude. When asked about why Japanese car dealerships did not sell American cars, he answered, "Why doesn't IBM sell Fujitsu computers?"[citation needed] When Japan's economy did not seem to be recovering from its 1991 collapse, Hashimoto ordered a commission of experts from the private sector to look into improving the Japanese market for foreign competition, and eventually opening it completely. This gave Hashimoto the political capital he needed to dissolve the Diet in 1996 and win re-election.

Hashimoto's government raised the Japanese consumption tax in 1997. Although the government implemented a reduction in the personal income tax prior to raising the consumption tax, the hike still had a negative effect on consumer demand in Japan.[2]

During the Upper House elections 1998, the LDP lost its majority. Hashimoto resigned to take responsibility for this failure, and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Foreign Minister Keizō Obuchi.

Later political life

Hashimoto remained in the upper echelons of the LDP and led his faction for several more years. In 2001, he was one of the main candidates in the running to replace Yoshirō Mori as prime minister, but he lost the primary election to the more popular Junichirō Koizumi.

Hashimoto's faction began to collapse late in 2003 while debating over whether to re-elect Koizumi. In 2004, Hashimoto stepped down as faction leader when he was found to have accepted a ¥100 million check from the Japan Dental Association, and announced that he would not run for re-election in his lower house district.


Former governor of Kōchi Prefecture, Daijiro Hashimoto, is his half-brother.

House of Representatives member and member of the Liberal Democratic Party Gaku Hashimoto is his second son.


  • From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (July 2006; posthumous)

Other information

Ryūtarō Hashimoto achieved the level of sixth degree black belt (6th dan) in Kendo, the art of Japanese fencing. In 1998, Hashimoto donated two tournament trophies to the Harvard Invitational Shoryuhai Intercollegiate Kendo Tournament as tokens of his encouragement.[citation needed]

In 1998, he was presented with the Silver World Award by Jere Ratcliffe, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, "for outstanding contributions to young people on an international level".[3]

On World Water Day (22 March) in 2004, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan established a global Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and appointed Ryutaro Hashimoto as its Chairman. Just prior to his death, Hashimoto submitted a letter addressed to "The People of the World" for publication in the book Water Voices from Around The World (October 2007), which is a book affiliated with the United Nations' decade of water (2005–15).[citation needed] In his letter, he addressed water-related disasters around the world, with an urgent appeal to the United Nations to halve the number of deaths caused by water disasters by 2015. Hashimoto closes this letter by writing: "An old proverb says 'Dripping water wears away the stone.' I humbly suggest, that through steadfast efforts, we can overcome any obstacle our civilization may encounter in the coming decade."[citation needed]

In 1999, Hashimoto appeared as a judge on the Japanese television show Iron Chef for the show's final battle, between Hiroyuki Sakai and Alain Passard.


  1. "江田憲司氏「橋本首相は大田知事と17回会った」". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 14 June 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  2. Ikegami, Akira (27 January 2014). "現代日本の足跡に学ぶ(14) 成長へ 好循環つかめるか". 日本経済新聞. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 橋本龍太郎首相は97年の消費税率引き上げ前、所得税減税を実施しました。そして「もう大丈夫だろう」と判断したのですが、消費が落ち込んでしまいました。駆け込み需要を景気回復と見誤っていたのです。 
  3. "Boy Scout leader urges knife safety". Japan Times. 9 March 1998. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Tomiichi Murayama
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Keizō Obuchi
Preceded by
Yōhei Kōno
Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Wataru Kubo