Obituary: Sosuke Uno

THE politician and former Prime Minister of Japan Sosuke Uno was one of a long line of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians who acted as conservative overseers of Japan's post-war economic renaissance. In power continuously from 1955, and until their demise in 1993, the leading politicians of the conservative LDP were akin to emperors in ancient Rome and in many ways enjoyed a similar perception of their own rather curious standards of ethical integrity and financial propriety.

In a country where political scandal is commonplace, Uno was no stranger to controversy. However, unlike many of his colleagues who were implicated and convicted in bribery and corruption scandals, Uno set a precedent for being the first Prime Minister and indeed Japanese politician to be forced out of office for a sex scandal.

Uno became Prime Minister in June 1989, following the demise of the corrupt Takeshita administration. This had fallen in the wake of the Recruit company scandal whereby politicians received Recruit shares in exchange for political favours.

He had managed to avoid being implicated in this scandal, which may say something about his political ability, given that Recruit executives only indulged those they thought influential. However, as a safe pair of hands, he was nominated and selected as Prime Minister at the age of 66, and immediately declared Recruit "deplorable".

Despite the promise of a "clean start" for Japanese politics, 69 days later and in the fourth shortest administration in Japanese politics, Uno was forced to resign following allegations of a five-month affair with a sometime prostitute, and further allegations of sexual misconduct with geisha girls.

Unlike the British newspaper-reading public, the Japanese have always been forgiving when it comes to dealing with their leaders' sexual (and even financial) irregularities. Indeed the concept of uwaki mono or "frivolous womaniser" is well ingrained and accepted in the culture. However, what was unforgivable in the eyes of the Japanese was that Uno, despite being one of Japan's richest politicians (as Foreign Secretary he was the second richest member of the Takeshita Cabinet), was publicly ridiculed on national television by his former lover for being tight-fisted.

In giving the geisha girl a miserly 3 million yen (about pounds 13,000) for her services and abruptly leaving her without so much as a parting gift, Uno's uwaki behaviour, though forgivable, began to be seen by the wider public as ketchi or "stingy", which was not forgivable.

The ire of women voters and, it should also be said, the national anger over the introduction of a 3 per cent consumption tax, along with the first ever Upper House defeat for the LDP in the preceding month's elections and attempts to open up Japan's agricultural market to foreign competition, all conspired against Uno and he was replaced on 10 August by the fresh- faced Toshiki Kaifu.

Despite the brevity of Uno's premiership, he had enjoyed a somewhat distinguished political career. Elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in 1960, aged 38, he became a Vice-Minister at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry six years later. Once established as uncontroversial and a loyal hand to his superiors, the conveyer-belt aspect of Japanese politics came into play and Uno also served as a junior minister in the Science and Technology Agency and the Administrative Agency, as well as holding Cabinet positions as Minister for Trade and Industry and then Foreign Secretary between 1987 and 1989.

Uno's tenure as Japan's prime minister was too brief for him to have made any significant impact on the country's direction in the late 1980s. However, he was regarded as a successful Foreign Secretary at a time when Japan was being called upon by the international community to make a more sizeable contribution to international relations in proportion to her economic might.

Uno did not contest the last 1996 general election; he enjoyed a quiet retirement and followed his pursuits of painting, music and writing poetry. During his lifetime he had published two volumes of haiku poetry and also a well-regarded book recounting his experiences as a prisoner of war in Siberia.

Sosuke Uno, politician: born Shiga, Japan 27 August 1922; Prime Minister of Japan 1989 married (two daughters); died Shiga 19 May 1998.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam