Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Miki Takeo (1907–1988)

Japanese conservative politician and prime minister (1974–1976). Born the son of a wealthy landowning family in Donari, Japan, on 17 March 1907, Miki Takeo studied in the United States before graduating with a law degree from Meiji University in 1937. That same year, he was first elected to the Japanese Diet (parliament). Because of his strong opposition to the war with the United States, he was able to continue his political career once the war ended in August 1945.

Referred to as a "Balkan politician" because he headed a small Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) faction, Miki adopted a dovish position within the ruling conservative party. He held many key posts, among them minister of communications (1947–1948) and minister of transportation (1954–1955). While serving as director general of the Economic Planning Agency (June–December 1958), he disagreed with the revision of the United States–Japan Security Treaty and resigned. He was minister of international trade and industry during 1965–1966 and minister of foreign affairs during 1966–1968. Because of Miki's reputation as a politician of great integrity, when Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei was forced to resign because of criticism of his fiscal policies, Miki was chosen to replace him in December 1974.

When Miki became prime minister, the U.S.-Soviet détente and improved U.S. relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) had greatly reduced the likelihood of a major war that might have involved Japan. Nonetheless, the Japanese sought to strengthen their defensive posture. Thus, in 1976 the Miki government announced the National Defense Program Outline, a policy designed to strengthen the Japanese armed forces to a level at which they could repel a limited attack without external aid. At the same time, the government mandated a limit on Japan's defense budget spending at 1 percent of gross national product (GNP).

In September 1976, a defecting Soviet fighter pilot landed his MiG-25 fighter aircraft in Hokkaido. Japan allowed U.S. military experts to inspect the plane before returning it to the Soviet Union, an action that greatly strained Japan's relations with Moscow. Also, during Miki's tenure, no substantial progress was made toward a peace treaty with the PRC. Miki was forced to resign in December 1976 after a power struggle within the LDP. He died in Tokyo on 14 November 1988.

Iikura Akira


Further Reading
Shinkawa, Toshimitsu. "Miki Takeo: Rinen to seron niyoru seiji." Pp. 239–259 in Sengo nihon no saisyotachi, edited by Akio Watanabe. Tokyo: Chuokoron sya, 1995.; Welfield, John. An Empire in Eclipse: Japan in the Postwar American Alliance System. London: Athlone, 1988.
 

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