Shinzō Abe was a Japanese politician who became the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Japan after serving as prime minister of Japan from 2006 to 2007 and then from 2012 to 2020. Aged 52 at the time of assuming office as the prime minister, Abe was also the youngest Japanese post-war prime minister.
Hideki Tojo headed the Imperial Japanese Army and was the Japanese minister of war, apart from being Japan’s prime minister from 1941 to 1944. His tenure witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor. After Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, Tojo was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death.
Born into a family of politicians, Junichiro Koizumi had been the prime minister of his country and a Liberal-Democratic Party leader. The London School of Economics alumnus became hugely popular among the masses for his reforms, such as inclusion of more women in the cabinet and speaking against nuclear weapons.
Born into the aristocratic Konoe family of Japan, Fumimaro Konoe grew up to become the Japanese prime minister. He led his nation during the second Sino-Japanese War and resigned just before World War II. Suspected of war crimes by the U.S., he eventually committed suicide by consuming potassium cyanide.
Beginning his career as a civil servant, Nobusuke Kishi entered politics as a vice minister of the Manchukuo government and later served in the Cabinet of Tōjō Hideki. Imprisoned for three years by the Allied Occupation authorities after the war, he eventually became the Prime Minister of Japan. As Prime Minister of Japan, he signed a new U.S.-Japan security treaty.
Yasuhiro Nakasone was a Japanese politician. He served as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party and prime minister of Japan from 1982 to 1987. For over five decades Nakasone served as a member of the House of Representatives. He is remembered for his work which helped reinvigorate Japanese nationalism, which plays a major role in the success of Japan.
Born to a paratrooper, Democratic Party leader and former Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda grew up amid abject poverty and was not related to the political elite of Japan. He eventually grew unpopular for his decision to reopen the nuclear plants that had been shut down after the Fukushima disaster.
Shigeru Yoshida had been the prime minister of Japan in the face of Allied occupation after World War II. Born to an entrepreneur and a geisha, he had later been adopted by a friend of his father’s. He is best known for the Yoshida Doctrine, which ushered in economic prosperity.
Born to a factory manager, Naoto Kan was not related to the Japanese political elite. He grew up to form his own patent company and later became Japan’s prime minister. As the country’s health minister earlier, he had admitted the government’s fault in distributing HIV-tainted blood to patients of hemophilia.
Born into a family of Japanese politicians that has been compared to the Kennedy family of the U.S., Yukio Hatoyama has served as Japan’s prime minister and as the Democratic Party president. An engineer, who later obtained a PhD from Stanford, he has also taught at a few universities earlier.
The current Japanese deputy prime minister and finance minister Taro Aso has also previously led the country as its prime minister. The Stanford alumnus is known for making controversial and racist statements. He also gained the nickname His Excellency Rozen for his love for the manga series Rozen Maiden.
Kantarō Suzuki was the last leader of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association and the last premier of Japan at the time of World War II, following which he surrendered to the Allied powers. He had previously gained accolades for his role in the Russo-Japanese War and the First Sino-Japanese War.
Born to former Prime Minister Takeo Fukudu, Yasuo Fukuda worked at a petroleum company before entering political arena as his father’s political secretary. Later he served as chief cabinet secretary to two more prime ministers before being elected to the position himself. He pledged to improve Japan’s relationship with China and North Korea; but resigned out of frustration a year later.
Kuniaki Koiso had served as Japan’s prime minister during the final stages of World War II but died in prison after being convicted of war crimes. Born into a family of samurai descendants, he grew up to become an army general. He had also been the governor general of Korea.
Born to a poor cattle dealer, Kakuei Tanaka started his own construction firm after quitting school at 15. After gaining immense wealth as a businessman, he stepped into politics and rose through the ranks to become the prime minister of Japan. He eventually resigned amid a bribery scandal.
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Japanese prime minister Eisaku Satō is remembered for his stance against nuclear weapons, which led Japan to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. While he improved trade with China, he was also criticized for letting the U.S. army stay in Okinawa even after its return to Japan.
Founder of the Nihon Shintō, or the Japan New Party, Morihiro Hosokawa was born into a political family and was a descendant of the Japanese royalty, the Kumamoto-Hosokawa clan. A qualified lawyer, he had also worked as a journalist before stepping into politics. He later resigned amid bribery charges.
Mamoru Shigemitsu had been the foreign minister and the deputy prime minister of Japan and an ambassador to several countries. He ratified Japan’s surrender to the Allies after World War II, following which he was convicted of war crimes. Hereceived a 7-year sentence but was paroled after 4 years.
After graduating in English literature, Keizo Obuchi stepped into his father’s shoes, becoming the youngest legislator in the Japanese parliament. His short-sighted policies are largely held responsible for Japan’s economic failure in his time. In his youth, he went on a world tour, taking up odd jobs, such as dishwashing.
The son of a brewer, Noboru Takeshita had initially been a high-school teacher. He later stepped into politics and joined the Liberal Democratic Party, eventually becoming the prime minister of Japan. He was forced to resign following his involvement in a corruption and insider trading scandal.
Son of a stonemason, Kōki Hirota grew up to graduate in law. Stepping into politics, he eventually became the prime minister of Japan. He had previously been an ambassador to Russia, too. He resigned amid army pressure and was executed by hanging for war crimes during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Son of a brewer from Moriyama, Sōsuke Uno was a martial arts champion in school. He later served the Japanese army in World War II, before stepping into politics and eventually becoming the prime minister of Japan. He resigned in the wake of a scandal involving a geisha.
Born an illegitimate son of an official painter of the shogunate, Takahashi Korekiyo was later adopted by a samurai. He went to the U.S. and worked there for a while, before returning to Japan. He eventually stepped into politics and later became the prime minister of Japan.
Born to a cabinet minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto followed in his father’s footsteps and joined politics. The Liberal-Democratic Party member later became the prime minister of Japan. His financial reforms ended up worsening the Japanese recession, and he eventually resigned. He also chaired the UN advisory board on Water and Sanitation.
Kijūrō Shidehara had briefly been the prime minister of Japan after World War II. He was famous for his Shidehara diplomacy, or foreign policy, that stressed on maintaining peace. He was part of the Washington Conference. He was later criticized by leftists for his family association with the Mitsubishi group.
Born Tada Jusaburō, Terauchi Masatake changed his name after being adopted by the Terauchi family. He was the army minister for a decade and later became the prime minister of Japan. Known for its aggressive foreign policies, his government collapsed when riots broke out over a rice shortage in Tokyo.
A graduate from Kyōto Imperial University law school, Ikeda Hayato began his career in the Ministry of Finance. He later entered politics to become Minister of Finance and eventually the Prime Minister of Japan. Today he is remembered not only for his Income Doubling Plan, which led to phenomenal economic growth, but also for trying to repair the US-Japan relationship.
Born to a Yale graduate father and an author mother, Ichirō Hatoyama grew up to become the Japanese prime minister. Initially, he clashed with the military for his Western ways and means. He was the first Japanese politician to use radio and TV as means of political campaigns.
Born into a political family, Kiichi Miyazawa grew up to graduate in law and then stepped into politics. He became the prime minister of Japan and also held important portfolios such as agriculture and finance. His political career, like those of many other Japanese politicians, was plagued by bribery scandals.
Japanese naval officer Saitō Makoto had initially worked as a naval attaché in the U.S. He later served as the governor of Korea and the minister of the Japanese navy, eventually becoming the prime minister of Japan. He was assassinated by members of the February 26 rebellion in 1936.
Born to a photography studio owner in Nagoya City, Toshiki Kaifu grew up to be the prime minister of Japan. The Liberal-Democratic Party member has also held important portfolios such as the ministry of education. He was the first major political leader to visit China after the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Born into nobility, Saionji Kinmochi came to prominence early in his life when he took part in the Meiji Restoration. He later entered politics and eventually rose to become the Prime Minister of Japan. During his reign, he tried to curtail military expenditure and keep the cabinet under party control. He wielded a moderating influence in Japanese politics even after retirement.
Former journalist and diplomat, Hara Takashi entered politics as the secretary-general of the newly founded Rikken Seiyūkai (Friends of Constitutional Government Party). He eventually rose to become the first commoner Prime Minister of Japan. However, some of his policies, including his refusal to support universal suffrage, antagonized many, leading to his assassination.
Three-time Japanese prime minister Katsura Taro supported the imperialists in the Meiji Restoration. He was the deputy army minister during the Sino-Japanese War. Though initially opposed to the concept of political parties and was elected as a military candidate, he later launched his own party, Rikken Dōshikai.
Although an important member of the Japanese Meiji oligarchy, Kōshaku (Marquess) Ōkuma Shigenobu was a centrist and a supporter of western ideas and science. His campaign for a parliamentary system of governance led to political reforms in Japan. As a foreign minister, he modernized the country’s fiscal system. A two-time Prime Minister, he was also the founder of Waseda University
Born to an affluent landowner and politician, Hata Tsutomu initially worked with the Odakyu bus company. The Liberal-Democratic Party member later grew tired of the sluggish pace of the party and established the Japan Renewal Party. He became the prime minister of Japan, but only for 9 weeks.
Takeo Fukuda was born into a family of farmers who had descended from samurais. He entered politics after graduating in law and slowly rose up the ranks to be the prime minister of Japan. He is best remembered for The Fukuda Doctrine, which focused on improving Japan’s relations with its neighbors.
Born to a landowner, Takeo Miki graduated in law and then became the prime minister of Japan. He wished to transform the image of his party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and thus pushed for an inquiry on Kakuei Tanaka’s bribery scandal. He had also initiated the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival.
The son of a fisherman, Zenkō Suzuki studied fisheries and worked with the Japan Fisheries Association, before joining politics. He later became the prime minister of Japan and propagated politics of harmony. He was criticized for modifying textbooks to dilute the reality of Japan’s aggression against China.
A converted Christian from Kan'onji, Masayoshi Ōhira grew up to work in the finance ministry and then served as the prime minister of Japan. He improved Japan’s relations with Korea and China but, unfortunately, died in office, during an election campaign in the wake of a no-confidence motion.
Japanese navy admiral Keisuke Okada was born to a former samurai family and later grew up to be the prime minister of Japan. He was a moderate voice and tried to reduce the influence of military extremists in Japan. He also advocated for peace with the Allies during World War II.