Taichi Sakaiya, a bestselling author and an economist who served in key government posts, died of multiple organ failure Friday at a Tokyo hospital, his office said. He was 83.
Sakaiya, whose real name was Kotaro Ikeguchi, left the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in October 1978 to become a full-time writer. But between July 1998 and December 2000 he headed the Economic Planning Agency, now the Cabinet Office, under two former prime ministers, Keizo Obuchi and Yoshiro Mori.
During the second administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he served as a special adviser to the Cabinet.
Sakaiya made his debut as a writer in 1975 with his novel “Yudan!” which depicted the dire consequences Japan could face in the event of an oil crisis. In the following year, he wrote a novel called “Dankai no Sedai,” which predicted the impact the first baby boomer generation could have on society. Due to his book, the term dankai no sedai now usually refers to those born several years after the end of World War II and has become central to discussions of generations and the aging society in Japan.
His book “Chika Kakumei” (“The Knowledge-Value Revolution or a History of the Future”) was translated into eight languages.
Sakaiya also provided easy-to-understand explanations of difficult themes while serving as head of the Economic Planning Agency.
The government’s monthly “economy watchers” survey, based on views from workers with jobs sensitive to economic trends such as taxi drivers and restaurant employees, was the brainchild of Sakaiya.
The survey was proposed to collect first-hand assessments of the economy from consumers, which are difficult to derive from general statistics.
Sakaiya, who was critical of the negative effects of bureaucracy, was also an advocate of decentralization.
After graduating from the University of Tokyo with a degree in economics, he joined now-defunct MITI in 1960. And later during his tenure he started publishing novels that predicted the future of Japan.
He played a key role in organizing the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, as well as the 1975 Okinawa Ocean Expo.
The Osaka native also wrote many historical novels, including “Toge no Gunzo” and “Hideyoshi,” which were dramatized and aired on NHK.