Monday, July 03, 2006

Requiescat in Pace

Hashimoto Ryutarō

b. 29 July 1937

d. 1 July 2006

Swordsman, father, mountaineer, photographer, Prime Minister

"This I say to you: Forget not that you were once a beginner" *

The Curse of the Seven Magistrates

In the 1980s Takeshita Faction had seven rising stars who looked poised to dominate Japanese politics for the rest of the century. Called the Seven Magistrates, this next generation of Japan leadership represented the cream of the crop in the largest, richest and broadest-based of the factions.

Three of the Seven Magistrates rose to the position of Prime Minister. Two became Foreign Minister. Two became Finance Minister.

Nevertheless, membership in the company of the Seven Magistrates seems closer to a curse than a blessing. The doom of the Seven can even be seen as emblematic of the collapse of the Tanaka money and power machine.

The Seven Magistrates and their fates:

Hashimoto Ryutarō (d. 1 July 2006 – aged 68)
Hata Tsutomu (left the LDP 1993)
Kajiyama Seiroku (d. 6 June 2000 – aged 74)
Obuchi Keizō (d. 14 May 2000 – aged 63)
Okuda Keiwa (d. 16 July 1998 – aged 71)
Ozawa Ichirō (left the LDP 1993)
Watanabe Kōzō (left the LDP 1993 – battling Parkinson's Disease)

Typically for the faction nowadays, Saturday was the day the news leaked out that younger members of the former Tanaka faction, now led by Tsushima Yūji, were planning a renegade bid to nominated Nukaga Fukushirō as the faction's candidate in the September LDP elections. Of course, this hot political nugget was blasted into nothingness by the news that Hashimoto had died.

* Interestingly, also the motto of Obuchi Yūko.

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