Lawmakers Sakurauchi, Hino leave long legacies

Yoshio Sakurauchi, a former speaker of the House of Representatives and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, died of respiratory failure Saturday night at a Tokyo hospital, his family said Sunday. He was 91.

Sakurauchi was the son of late Lower House member and prewar Finance Minister Yukio Sakurauchi.

He was first elected in the 1947 general elections and had been elected a total of 18 times to the Diet’s lower chamber, mostly in his Shimane constituency. He had also been elected once to the House of Councilors and served there for 19 months.

The Tokyo-born Sakurauchi had headed the ministries of international trade and industry, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, construction and foreign affairs during his career.

“I have lost a respectable old friend who has fulfilled his mission as a postwar politician,” former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said in a statement. “We, as reformists, worked together to develop the LDP and Japan. He was an extremely mild-mannered person, while at the same time had a passionate drive.”

As LDP secretary general, Sakurauchi led the party to victory in the 1980 unified Diet elections following the sudden death of Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira. He also played an important role in supporting the administration of Nakasone in the 1980s.

Sakurauchi, who studied at the prestigious Keio schools from kindergarten through university, was speaker of the Lower House from February 1990 to June 1993.

During his stint as the Lower House speaker, Sakurauchi managed to have the law concerning cooperation with U.N. peacekeeping operations pass in June 1992 despite opposition lawmakers’ tactics to delay the vote.

He retired from politics in June 2000.

His memorial and funeral service will be held at Ikegami Hommonji Temple in Tokyo’s Ota Ward on Thursday.

Lawyer-turned-politician

Ichiro Hino, a House of Representatives member and former posts and telecommunications minister, died of esophageal cancer Sunday afternoon at a hospital in Tokyo. He was 69.

A native of Miyagi Prefecture, Hino pursued a career as a defense lawyer before he was first elected to the Lower House from a Miyagi constituency in 1976. He had since been elected to the Diet eight times.

After filling such posts as policy chief for the then Social Democratic Party of Japan, Hino became posts minister in 1996 under Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who was supported by the Liberal Democratic Party, the SDPJ and New Party Sakigake.

Hino later left the socialist party and joined the Democratic Party of Japan.