Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Ōhira Masayoshi (1910–1980)

Japanese Liberal Democratic Party politician, chief cabinet secretary (1960–1962), minister of foreign affairs (1962–1964, 1972–1974), minister of international trade and industry (1968–1970), minister of finance (1974–1976), and prime minister (1978–1980). Born on 12 March 1910 in Kagawa prefecture, Ōhira Masayoshi graduated from the Tokyo College of Commerce (now Hitotsubashi University) and entered the ministry of finance in 1936. After serving as secretary to several ministers of finance (1945 and intermittently during 1949–1952), he was elected to the Diet in 1952.

As foreign minister, Ōhira negotiated the principal agreement with the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea) treating compensation stemming from the Japanese occupation of Korea. He achieved this through direct talks with Kim Jong Pil, head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, in 1962. This agreement paved the way for the normalization of diplomatic relations with South Korea. Ōhira was also of assistance to Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei in normalizing relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1972. In 1971 Ōhira took over leadership of the old Ikeda faction of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

As prime minister from December 1978, Ōhira supported the study of traditional conservative Japanese values and in 1979 hosted the Tokyo Summit. Although considered a moderate in foreign policy, he sharply criticized the Soviet Union for its invasion of Afghanistan that same year. While in office, Ōhira died of a heart attack on 12 June 1980 in Tokyo.

Yamaguchi Satoru


Further Reading
Satō Seizaburō, Kōyama Ken'ichi, and Kumon Shunpei. Postwar Politician: The Life of Former Prime Minister Masayoshi Ōhira. Translated by William R. Carter. Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1990.
 

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