Former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki died at a Tokyo hospital Monday, his family said. He was 93.
Suzuki was hastily appointed prime minister in July 1980, following the sudden death of his predecessor, Masayoshi Ohira. He served in this capacity until November 1982, when he was succeeded by Yasuhiro Nakasone.
He was known for his efforts to smooth out differences within the fractious Liberal Democratic Party he inherited, with his methods described as “the politics of harmony.”
At his May 1981 summit with then U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Japan and the United States for the first time formally defined their relationship as an “alliance.”
Suzuki also set up a commission on administrative reform in an effort to realize his pledge to pursue fiscal reconsolidation without tax hikes. He also altered the electoral system for the House of Councilors, introducing a proportional representation element.
However, he suddenly announced in November 1982 that he would step down. The announcement came amid a deterioration in bilateral relations with the U.S. and an impasse on fiscal reconstruction, as well as moves within the LDP to derail his re-election.
Born in Iwate Prefecture on Jan. 11, 1911, he graduated from the Fisheries Institute of the farm ministry.
The institute is now the Tokyo University of Fisheries.
He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1947 as a socialist candidate and served 16 consecutive terms.
He joined the LDP in 1949 and was a member of the party faction established by Hayato Ikeda.
This faction has since split into three small groups.
He served as posts and telecommunications minister in Ikeda’s first Cabinet, formed in 1960, and was chief Cabinet secretary for Ikeda in his third Cabinet, established in 1964.
Under Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, Suzuki held the health and welfare portfolio.
He retired from politics in 1990. His son, Shunichi, is now an LDP Lower House member.
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