Former Japanese prime minister Toshiki Kaifu, who ruled the country in the early 1990s, has died at the age of 91, the government said on Friday.
Kaifu held various cabinet positions, including Cabinet Secretary, Government Spokesperson, and twice Minister of Education, before being elected Prime Minister in 1989.
The former ruler died on Sunday, government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said, without giving details on the cause.
During the 1991 Gulf War, the Kaifu administration contributed large sums to finance coalition forces. After the conflict, his government authorized the deployment of demining teams to the Persian Gulf, the first foreign mission of that unit since its creation.
The former prime minister enjoyed public support and had an image of a “clean and ethical” politician, guaranteeing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) victory in the 1990 general elections.
Born in Ichinomiya, Nagoya, on January 2, 1931, Kaifu was the first leader of the Japanese Government born in the Showa era (1926 – 1989).
The son of a photography studio owner, as a high school student, he passed his exams to volunteer in the Air Force’s special youth corps, but did not become a member due to the end of World War II.
His interest in politics began in 1951, when he was still a student at Waseda University in Tokyo, helping Conservative MP Kinsho Kono.
In 1954, he finished law school and two years later graduated from various universities with a degree in political science. He entered political life in 1960, when he was elected to the Diet (parliament) of his home province of Aichi.
In August 1989, he was elected president of the LDP, replacing Sosuke Uno who, under Japanese law, also succeeded him as prime minister after his resignation. In November, he was re-elected head of the party.
Kaifu attempted to undertake political reform and clean up the Japanese electoral system through three bills that sought to change how elections work and the funding of parliamentary parties and candidates. However, he faced opposition from the “barons” of his party.
In this context, Kaifu resigned to run for re-election as president of the LDP. When he resigned from the presidency, he was also forced to resign as head of government, in which he was replaced by his LDP successor, Kiichi Miyazawa, in November 1991.
In 1994 he left the LDP and became chairman of the new New Frontier Party (Shinshinto).