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Sato Eisaku

Satō Eisaku (佐藤 栄作 March 27,1901 - June 3,1975) was a Japanese politician and the 61st, 62nd and 63rd Prime Minister, elected on November 9, 1964, and re-elected on February 17, 1967 and January 14, 1970, serving until July 7, 1972.

He was born in Tabuse in Yamaguchi prefecture, and studied law at Tokyo Imperial University, becoming a civil servant in the Ministry of Railways. In 1948, he was named vice-minister for transportation.

He entered the Diet in 1949 as a member of the Liberal Party, and gradually rose through the ranks of Japanese politics, becoming Chief Cabinet Secretary to Yoshida Shigeru, and in 1952, minister of construction. After the Liberal Party merged with the Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party, Sato became Minister of Finance in the governments of Kishi Nobusuke (his brother) and Ikeda Hayato.

Sato succeeded Ikeda after the latter resigned due to ill health. His government was one of the longest-lived in Japanese history, and by the late 1960's he appeared to have single-handed control over the entire Japanese government. He was a popular prime minister due to the growing economy; his foreign policy, which was a balancing act between the interests of the United States and China, was more tenuous. In 1969, Sato struck a deal with U.S. president Richard Nixon to repatriate Okinawa and remove its nuclear weaponry: this deal was controversial because it allowed the U.S. forces in Japan to maintain bases in Okinawa after repatriation.

After three terms as prime minister, Sato decided not to run for a fourth. His heir apparent, Fukuda Takeo, won the Sato faction's support in the subsequent Diet elections, but the more popular MITI minister, Tanaka Kakuei, won the vote, ending the Sato faction's dominance.

Sato shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Seán MacBride in 1974, in recognition of Japan's entry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He died in Tokyo the following year.

He married Hiroko in 1926 and had two children, Ryutaro and Shinji.

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Preceded by:
Ikeda Hayato
Prime ministers of Japan Succeeded by:
Tanaka Kakuei