Taro Aso

Taro Aso

Infobox Prime Minister
name = Taro Aso

imagesize = 204px
monarch = Akihito
office = Prime Minister of Japan
term_start = 24 September 2008
term_end =
predecessor = Yasuo Fukuda
successor =
office2 = Member of the House of Representatives
term_start2 = 1979
term_end2 =
constituency2 = Fukuoka Prefecture 8th District (as of September 2005)
majority2 = 145,229 (55.4%) in 2005 [The total of votes in the district was 262,162. [http://www.pref.fukuoka.lg.jp/uploaded/life/17/17808_24707_misc.PDF Votes for each candidate] (PDF), [http://www.pref.fukuoka.lg.jp/uploaded/life/17/17808_24708_misc.PDF Total and subtotals] (PDF), Fukuoka Prefectural election board. ja icon]
primeminister3 = Junichiro Koizumi
Shinzo Abe
office3 = Minister for Foreign Affairs
term_start3 = 31 October 2005
term_end3 = 27 August 2007
predecessor3 = Nobutaka Machimura
successor3 = Nobutaka Machimura
primeminister4 = Junichiro Koizumi
office4 = Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications
term_start4 = 22 September 2003
term_end4 = 31 October 2005
predecessor4 = Toranosuke Katayama
successor4 = Heizo Takenaka
primeminister5 = Yoshiro Mori
office5 = Minister in-charge of Economic and Financial Policies
term_start5 = 23 January 2001
term_end5 = 26 April 2001
predecessor5 = Fukushirō Nukaga
successor5 = Heizo Takenaka
primeminister6 = Ryutaro Hashimoto
office6 = Director General of the Economic Planning Agency
term_start6 = 7 November 1996
term_end6 = 11 September 1997
predecessor6 = Shūsei Tanaka
successor6 = Koji Omi
birth_date = Birth date and age|df=yes|1940|9|20
birth_place = Iizuka, Japan
party = Liberal Democratic Party
website = http://www.aso-taro.jp/
spouse = Chikako Aso
relations = See: Family Tree
religion = Roman Catholic

Nihongo|Taro Aso|麻生太郎|Asō Tarō|extra=born September 20, 1940 is the current Prime Minister of Japan, having taken office on September 24, 2008. He is also President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and has served in the House of Representatives since 1979. He was Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2007, and was Secretary-General [http://www.jimin.jp/jimin/english/Organs/index.html "Official English Translations for LDP Officials and Party Organs"] , Liberal Democratic Party.] of LDP briefly in 2007 and in 2008.

On September 22, 2008, Aso was elected to succeed Yasuo Fukuda as President of LDP. On September 24, the Diet elected Aso as Prime Minister. [http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20080924p2a00m0na013000c.html "LDP President Aso elected prime minister"] , "The Mainichi Daily News", THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS, 2008-09-24.] [http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D93CV8D00&show_article=1 "4TH LD: Aso elected Japan's prime minister, to form Cabinet+"] , "Breitbart.com", 2008-09-24.]

Early life

Aso, a Roman Catholic, was born in Iizuka, Fukuoka. [ [http://www.forbes.com/finance/feeds/afx/2006/08/20/afx2961236.html "Japanese foreign minister to announce bid to replace Koizumi"] , "Forbes", 2006-08-20.] His father, Takakichi Aso, was the chairman of the Aso Cement Company and a close associate of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka; his mother was Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida's daughter. Aso is also a great-great-grandson of Toshimichi Okubo, and his wife is the third daughter of Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki. His younger sister, Nobuko, is the wife of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, a first cousin of the Emperor Akihito.

Aso first graduated from the Faculty of Politics and Economics at Gakushuin University. He then studied in the United States at Stanford University, but was cut off by his family, who feared he was becoming too Americanized. After making his way back to Japan on a ship, he left once more to study at the London School of Economics.

Aso spent two years working for a diamond mining operation in Sierra Leone before civil war forced him to return to Japan.

Aso joined his father's company in 1966, and served as president of the Asō Mining Company from 1973 to 1979. He has distanced himself from the company's use of forced labor during World War II. [cite news|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/09/21/asia/AS-Japan-Ascendant-Aso.php|title=Personality gives Aso edge in Japan PM election|work=International Herald Tribune|date=2008-09-21|accessdate=2008-09-21|quote=He's distanced himself from the historical record of his family coal mining business, which used forced laborers from Korea while that country was still a Japanese colony.] Working for the company, he lived in Brazil during the 1960s; Aso speaks Portuguese fluently. [ [http://www.estadao.com.br/estadaodehoje/20080926/not_imp248260,0.php Article] on "O Estado de São Paulo", September 26th 2008. pt icon]

He was also a member of the Japanese shooting team at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and President of the Japan Junior Chamber in 1978.

Political career

Aso was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in October 1979, and has since been re-elected eight times. In 1988, he became Parliamentary Vice Minister for Education.

He joined the Cabinet of Junichiro Koizumi in 2003 as Minister of Internal Affairs, Posts and Communications. On October 31, 2005, he became Minister for Foreign Affairs. There has been some speculation that his position in the Cabinet was due to his membership in the Kono Group, an LDP caucus led by pro-Chinese lawmaker Yohei Kono: by appointing Aso as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Koizumi may have been attempting to "rein in" Kono's statements critical of Japanese foreign policy. [Hideo Hamada, [http://www.janjan.jp/kokkai_watch/0511/0511014602/1.php?PHPSESSID=f82b662b2b519ee16fdaf8d6dc44f89b "The Diet Now: Containment and Division"] , JAN JAN, 2005-11-01.]

Aso was one of the final candidates to replace Koizumi as prime minister in 2006, but lost the internal party election to Shinzo Abe by a wide margin. Both Abe and Asō are conservative on foreign policy issues and have taken confrontational stances towards some East Asian nations, particularly North Korea and, to a lesser extent, the People's Republic of China. Abe was considered a more "moderate" politician than the more "hard-line" Aso, and led Aso in opinion polling within Japan. [ [http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/11/01/hardline-hawk-or-unapologetic-bigot "Hardline Hawk or Unapologetic Bigot?"] , "ComingAnarchy.com", 2005-11-01.]

On September 14, 2007, shortly after Abe announced his resignation, Aso announced his candidacy to replace Abe as Prime Minister. Aso was initially considered to be a leading candidate for the position [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/09/12/abe.resign/index.html "Abe to resign as Japanese PM"] , "CNN.com International", 2007-09-12.] but was soon eclipsed by Yasuo Fukuda, a more "dovish" politician supported by Nobutaka Machimura, Fukushiro Nukaga, and reportedly by Koizumi as well. [ [http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070914p2a00m0na016000c.html "Japan PM race pits conservative Aso against dovish senior politician Fukuda"] , from The Associated Press on "The Mainichi Daily News", THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS, 2007-09-14.] Aso acknowledged that he would most likely lose to Fukuda, but said that he wanted to run so that there would be an open election, saying that otherwise LDP would face criticism for making its choice "through back-room deals". [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/09/16/asia/AS-POL-Japan-Politics.php "Former FM Aso acknowledges probable defeat in Japan's leadership race"] , from The Associated Press on "International Herald Tribune", 2007-09-16.] In the President election, held on September 23, Fukuda defeated Aso, receiving 330 votes against 197 votes for Aso. [ [http://voanews.com/english/2007-09-23-voa5.cfm "Fukuda Chosen to Replace Abe as Japan's Prime Minister"] , "VOANews.com", 2007-09-23.] [ [http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070923dy01.htm "Fukuda wins LDP race / Will follow in footsteps of father as prime minister"] , "The Daily Yomiuri", The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2007-09-23.]

On August 1, 2008, Fukuda appointed Aso as Secretary-General of LDP, a move that solidified Aso's position as the number two man in the party. [ [http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080802TDY01303.htm "Fukuda overhauls Cabinet / LDP executive shakeup also elevates Aso to party No. 2"] , The Yomiuri Shimbun, August 2, 2008.]

Suddenly and unexpectedly on September 1, 2008, Fukuda announced his will to resign as Prime Minister [ [http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/archive/news/2008/09/01/20080901p2a00m0na020000c.html "Fukuda announces resignation as prime minister of Japan"] , "The Mainichi Daily News", THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS, 2008-09-01.] . Five LDP members including Aso ran for new party President to succeed Fukuda. On September 21, one day before votes of Diet party members, Aso reportedly told a crowd of supporters outside Tokyo: "The greatest concern right now is the economy." "America is facing a financial crisis ... we must not allow that to bring us down as well."Joseph Coleman, [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hlQO-kyvIEyrc0I90V5l0LFN7JTwD93BK79G0 "Japan ruling party turns to brash Aso"] , The Associated Press, 2008-09-22.] Finally on September 22, Aso did win. Aso was elected as President of LDP with 351 of 525 votes (217 from 384 Diet party members, 134 from 47 prefecture branches); Kaoru Yosano, Yuriko Koike, Nobuteru Ishihara, Shigeru Ishiba got 66, 46, 37, 25 votes respectively [ [http://www.jimin.jp/jimin/jimin/ayumi/index.html "党のあゆみ・総裁選挙"] , Liberal Democratic Party. ja icon] [ [http://mainichi.jp/select/opinion/closeup/news/20080923ddn003010032000c.html クローズアップ2008:自民新総裁に麻生氏 総選挙へ切り札] , "毎日新聞": Osaka - Evening edition, THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS, 2008-09-23. ja icon] [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gqszq8agglGSFXJ4S7Nv0OsSe1_A "Conservative Aso chosen as Japan PM"] , AFP, 2008-09-22.] .

Two days later on September 24, Aso was designated by the Diet as Prime Minister, and was formally appointed to the office by the Emperor on that night. In the House of Representatives (lower house), Aso garnered 337 out of 478 votes cast; in the House of Councillors (upper house), Ichiro Ozawa, President [ [http://www.dpj.or.jp/english/about_us/index.html "About us"] , The Democratic Party of Japan.] of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, was named through two times of ballots. Because no agreement was reached at a joint committee of both Houses, the resolution of the House of Representatives became the resolution of the Diet, as is stipulated in the Constitution [ [http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/constitution_and_government_of_japan/constitution_e.html "The Constitution of Japan"] . Translation (presumably of non-official) available on the Cabinet PR site.] . Aso reportedly said, "If you look at the current period, it's not a stable one." and "These are turbulent times with the financial situation and everything else." [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/23/AR2008092303192.html?hpid=moreheadlines "Japan ruling party leader elected prime minister"] , from The Associated Press on "washingtonpost.com", 2008-09-24.]

Later on the same day as his election as Prime Minister, Aso personally announced his new Cabinet (this is normally done by the Chief Cabinet Secretary). Aso's Cabinet was markedly different from the preceding Cabinet under Fukuda. Five of its members had never previously served in the Cabinet, and one of them, 34-year-old Yuko Obuchi, was the youngest member of the Cabinet in the post-war era. [ [http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080925TDY01303.htm "Aso elected premier / Announces Cabinet lineup himself; poll likely on Nov. 2"] , The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2005-09-25.]

Controversial statements

During a meeting of the Kono Group in 2001, Aso drew criticism when he said that "those burakumin can't become prime minister," a statement directed at Hiromu Nonaka, a burakumin member of the Diet. Aso's office later attempted to clarify the statements by saying that they were misunderstood. [cite book |title= [http://shop.kodansha.jp/bc2_bc/search_view.jsp?b=2123444 野中広務 差別と権力] |author=魚住昭(Akira Uozumi, "Uozumi Akira")|chapter=the last chapter|date=2004-06-30 |publisher=Kodansha |language=Japanese |isbn=978-4-06-212344-0]

In 2001, as economics minister, he was quoted as saying he wanted to make Japan a country where "rich Jews" would like to live.cite news
last = McCurry
first = Justin
coauthors =
title = Blue eyes, blond hair: that's US problem, says Japanese minister
work = The Guardian
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = March 23, 2007
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2040957,00.html
accessdate = 2007-09-19

On October 15, 2005, he praised Japan for having "one culture, one civilization, one language, and one ethnic group," and stated that it was the only such country in the world. [Christopher Reed, [http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=f6f50bd7a1687ece711a7ef721bb6fb8 "Ghosts of Wartime Japan Haunt Koizumi's Cabinet”] , "New America Media", 2005-11-03.] At a lecture in Nagasaki Prefecture, Aso referred to a Japanese peace initiative on the Middle East, stating, "The Japanese were trusted because they had never been involved in exploitation there, or been involved in fights or fired machine guns. Japan is doing what the Americans can't do. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces."

"Kyodo News" reported that he had said on February 4, 2006, "our predecessors did a good thing" regarding compulsory education implemented during Japan's colonization of Taiwan. [Kyodo, [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060205a8.html “Taiwan colonization was 'good': Asō] ”, "The Japan Times Online", 2006-02-05.]

On December 21, 2005, he said China was "a neighbour with one billion people equipped with nuclear bombs and has expanded its military outlays by double digits for 17 years in a row, and it is unclear as to what this is being used for. It is beginning to be a considerable threat." [“ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4551642.stm Japan alarmed by Chinese 'threat'] ”, "BBC", 2005-12-22.] On January 28, 2006, he called for the emperor to visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine. He later backtracked on the comment, but stated that he hoped such a visit would be possible in the future. [Kyodo, “ [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2006-01/29/content_516354.htm Aso rapped for emperor shrine visit remark] ”, "CHINAdaily.com.cn", 2006-01-29.]

"Mainichi Daily News" reported that on March 9, 2006 he referred to Taiwan as a "law-abiding country", which drew strong protest from Beijing, which considers the island a part of China. [http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20060309p2a00m0na026000c.html (deadlink)] His implication that Taiwan is an independent nation contradicts the agreement made between Japan and China in 1972 (the Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China) that the Beijing rather than Taipei government be considered the sole legal government of China and that Taiwan be considered "an inalienable part of the territory of the People's Republic of China."

On September 23, 2008, The AKAHATA, the daily newspaper published by Japanese Communist Party released a compiled list of these and other statements as the front page article criticizing Aso. [http://www.jcp.or.jp/akahata/aik07/2008-09-23/2008092302_03_0.html "新総裁 麻生氏 発言録"] , "しんぶん赤旗", Japanese Communist Party, 2008-09-13.]

Personal life

Manga fan

Aso is a fan of manga since childhood. He had his family send manga magazines from Japan while he was studying at Stanford University.cite web |url=http://www.chikuhou.or.jp/aso-taro/newspaper/030702-1.html |title=麻生太郎 コミックを語る (Taro Aso talks about comics) |accessdate=2007-12-22 |author= |date=2003-07-02 |work=Big Comic Original |publisher=Shogakukan (original publisher), "ASO TARO OFFICE" (copy) |language=Japanese] In 2003, he described reading about 10 or 20 manga magazines every week (it was not only manga, but also the amount of reading is large in his case) and talked about his impression of various manga extemporaneously. In 2007, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, he established the International Manga Award for non-Japanese manga artists. [cite web | title= International MANGA Awardd | url= http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/culture/manga/index.html | accessdate= 2007-12-22 |Publisher = The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan ] [cite web | title= Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso at Digital Hollywood University | url= http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/fm/aso/speech0604-2.html | accessdate= 2007-09-12 ] [cite web | title= Japan Launches International Manga Award | url= http://www.icv2.com/articles/home/10648.html | accessdate= 2007-09-12 ]

Aso has allegedly been witnessed reading the manga "Rozen Maiden" in Tokyo International Airport. He admitted in an interview that he had read the manga (but he said he did not remember whether he had read it in the airport), and described his impressions of the manga. [cite book |title= [http://shop.kodansha.jp/bc2_bc/search_view.jsp?b=1795910 Mechabi Vol. 1] |chapter=麻生太郎「直撃! ローゼンメイデン疑惑?」  (Rozen Maiden suspicion: Interview with Aso Taro) |date=2006-06-02 |publisher=Kodansha |language=Japanese |isbn=978-4-06-179591-4] [cite book |title=自由と繁栄の弧 |first=296 |last=305 |date=2007-06 |author=Taro Aso |publisher=Gentosha |language=Japanese |isbn=978-4344013339]

Thus, his candidacy for the position of Japanese Prime Minister following the announced resignation of incumbent Shinzo Abe actually caused shares among some manga publishers and companies related to the manga industry to rise significantly. [cite news |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6991720.stm |title=Manga shares gain on leader hopes |accessdate=2007-12-22 |author= |date=2007-09-12 |publisher=BBC News]

Family Tree


External links

* [http://www.aso-taro.jp/ Official website]  ja icon
* [http://www.un.org/ga/63/generaldebate/japan.shtml Prime Minister Taro Aso's address to the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly] , September 25, 2008

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