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Noboru Takeshita

Noboru Takeshita

The 74th Prime Minister of Japan
The basics
Occupations Politician
Countries Japan
Gender male
Birth February 26, 1924 (Unnan, Shimane Prefecture, Chūgoku region, Japan)
Death June 19, 2000 (Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan)
Politics Liberal Democratic Party
Father: Yūzō Takeshita
Spouse: Naoko Takeshita
Children: Daigo
Education Waseda University
Authority ISNI id Library of congress id VIAF id
Noboru Takeshita
The details

Noboru Takeshita (竹下 登, Takeshita Noboru, 26 February 1924 – 19 June 2000) was a Japanese politician and the 74th Prime Minister of Japan from 6 November 1987 to 3 June 1989.

Takeshita led the largest faction 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. He was the last prime minister to serve during the long rule of Emperor Hirohito.

Early life and education

Takeshita was born in present-day Unnan, Shimane on 26 February 1924 and attended Waseda University.

He married prior to World War II, when he joined the Imperial Japanese Army to serve as an instructor. 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.

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

Political career

Takeshita served as a local assemblyman in Shimane Prefecture from 1951. 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. 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. 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 and led to the Japanese asset price bubble of the 1980s.

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. 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. The Tanaka faction members who moved to Takeshita's faction included Ichiro Ozawa, Tsutomu Hata, Ryutaro Hashimoto, Keizo Obuchi and Kozo Watanabe.

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

Prime Minister

Takeshita and his wife disembarking from a Japan Airlines DC-10 at Andrews AFB during a US state visit

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.

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. 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.

The Recruit scandal forced Takeshita to resign in 1989.

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. 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.

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. The Economist characterized his death as the end of an era that was "a dizzy mixture of brilliance and corruption" in Japanese politics.

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.

Personal life

Singer Daigo (formerly known as Daigo☆Stardust) is Takeshita's grandson. Manga artist Eiki Eiki is his granddaughter.


  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (20 June 2000; posthumous)
  • Golden Pheasant Award of the Scout Association of Japan (1991)
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Early life and education Political career Prime Minister Later years and death Personal life Honours
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