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Hosokawa Morihiro

Hosokawa Morihiro (細川 護煕, b. January 14, 1937) is a Japanese politician and was the 35th Prime Minister of Japan from August 9, 1993 to April 28, 1994, forming the first non-Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) cabinet since 1955.

Hosokawa was born into a branch of the ancient Fujiwara family in Tokyo (the former Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro was his grandfather) and received his LL.B from Sophia University in 1961. After working for the Asahi Shimbun for several years, he was elected to the House of Councillors of Japan as a member of the LDP in 1971, representing Kumamoto prefecture.

After serving two terms in the National Diet, he left in 1983 to become the governor of Kumamoto, where he served until 1991.

In 1992, he announced that he could no longer stand the corruption in the LDP, and left to found the reformist Japan New Party (JNP).

In the summer of 1993, in a change very few had foreseen even a year earlier, the LDP lost its majority in the Diet for the first time in thirty-eight years and was replaced by an eight-party coalition government which promised a series of social, political, and economic reforms. Excluding the JCP, the coalition was backed by all of the former opposition parties, which included the newly formed JNP, the Socialist Party, Shinseito, Komeito, the Democratic Socialist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the New Party Sakigake. Hosokawa, one of the major voices in forming the coalition, was chosen as the new Prime Minister.

One of the first things the newly elected PM did was to say what no other Japanese leader, including the Emperor, had said for forty-eight years. In his August 15, 1993 speech at the annual war memorial services, he publicly acknowledged that World War II was a “war of aggression, a mistaken war” and expressed responsibility and condolences to the war victims and survivors, in Japan, its Asian neighbors, and the rest of the world.

On March 19, 1994, he visited China. The two governments signed the agreement of cooperation in environmental protection.

Although his coalition managed to secure passage of legislation to reform the electoral system in 1994, the subject of a long-running national debate, Hosokawa’s run as PM was short lived. Under allegations that he had misused personal funds in the 1980's, he was forced to resign later that year, just eight months after taking office. After his resignation, the coalition was taken over by the Shinseito president Hata Tsutomu.

Hosokawa joined Shinshinto in 1996, and later moved to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in 1998 from which he retired from politics in May of that year.

In his retirement, he has taken up pottery which has been exhibited in Japan and Europe. He is also a special consultant to The Japan Times.

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Preceded by:
Miyazawa Kiichi
Prime ministers of Japan Succeeded by:
Hata Tsutomu