This is the last in a series on influential figures in the Heisei Era, which began in 1989 and will end when Emperor Akihito abdicates on April 30. In Heisei, Japan was roiled by economic excess and stagnation, as well as a struggle for political and social reform. This series explored those who left their imprint along the way.

For Japanese voters, the better part of the 30 years of Heisei was marked by the search for real reform as the nation struggled with the economic stagnation of the 1990s commonly referred to as the "lost decade."

Pessimism about the future was widespread, and the Diet's stereotypical, geriatric politicians continued to rule the country.