Ton-chan & Hashi-ryu

by Rika Nishioka

Both Tomiichi Murayama and Ryutaro Hashimoto are prime ministers although Tomiichi is a former prime minister. They have opposite characteristics I think. At first sight, Tomiichi appears to be a gentle and good-natured old man. His speech when he resigned as Prime Minister, showed these qualities very much. He has white hair and characteristic eyebrows which haven't changed since he was young. Ryutaro, in contrast, has black hair and a smooth, shiny face so he looks healthy and youthful. His impressions are positive and good. His favorite sport is kendo (Japanese fencing), in which he holds the rank of fifth dan. It expresses his politeness, fighting and unyielding spirit, and Japanese disposition strongly.

Ryutaro's father, Nobusuke Hashimoto was also a politician and served as Minister of Education and Minister for Health and Welfare in the cabinet of Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, while Tomiichi had been raised in an ordinary family. Neither Tomiichi nor Ryutaro start their political activities as soon as they graduated from their respective universities. When Tomiichi was twenty-seven years old, he stood for the election of Oita-Municipal Assembly, but he was unsuccessful. After that, he ran again and won. Then he also entered the Social Democratic party of Japan(SDPJ) and became a member of Oita Prefectural Assembly later. Ryutaro, on the other hand, once became an office worker and worked for three years, however, later he quit his job and became the secretary to the Minister of Health and Welfare. As soon as he was 25 years old, the minimum age for participation in government, he was chosen as a member of the Diet. At that time he was the youngest member of the House of Councilors in Japan. After that, he has held various ministries --Health and Welfare, Transport, Finance, and International Trade and Industry. Tomiichi belongs to the Social and Labor Committee and mainly did the job of the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and the Steering Committee, and was elected as the chairman of the SDPJ on 1993.

In June 1994 Ryutaro was appointed Minister of International Trade and Industry in the cabinet of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. Since that time, he has exerted strong leadership in implementing a whole range of policies, including those for industry and trade. Ryutaro retained his portfolio as Minister of International Trade and Industry when Prime Minister Murayama reshuffled his cabinet in August 1995 , and he was elected president of the LDP a month later, succeeding Yohei Kono. In October he assumed the post of Deputy Prime Minister in the Murayama Cabinet, and remained a ministry of the administration.

After Prime Minister Murayama stepped down in January to allow the nation to make "a fresh start" after paving the way to solving various pending issues, Ryutaro was elected Prime Minister with the backing of the same three parties in the ruling coalition.


Last modified: Wed Nov 27 10:29:02 JST 1996