Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Suzuki Zenkō (1911–2004)

Japanese politician and prime minister (1980–1982). Born in Iwate Prefecture on 11 January 1911, Suzuki Zenkō graduated from the Fisheries Training School at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 1935. He then became active in labor union affairs. In 1947 he was elected to the Diet on the Socialist Party ticket, but by the 1949 election he had become a member of the Democratic Liberal Party and was reelected on that party's ticket. In 1960 he joined the first Ikeda Hayato cabinet as minister of posts and telecommunications and, after having served in several different cabinet positions, including a stint as chief cabinet secretary, became prime minister in July 1980.

As prime minister, Suzuki adopted what he called the politics of harmony, which emphasized increased political dialogue. At the same time, he advocated comprehensive security abroad by distancing his government from President Ronald Reagan's hard-line strategy toward the Soviet Union. During a visit to the United States in 1981, Suzuki's interpretation of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, which he said "does not imply a military connotation," angered the White House and strained U.S.-Japanese relations. Suzuki was in fact a dovish politician who concerned himself with limiting defense expenditures despite the effort of the Reagan administration's strong pressure to increase them.

In 1982 Suzuki declared that he would not run for election as party president. He dissolved his cabinet that November and retired from politics in 1990. Suzuki died in Tokyo on 19 July 2004.

Tomoyuki Takemoto


Further Reading
Ohtake Hideo. Nippon No Boei To Kokunai Seiji [Japan's Defense and Domestic Politics]. Tokyo: San-Ichi Shobo, 1983.; Schaller, Michael. Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.; Uji Toshihiko. Suzuki Seiken Happyaku-Rokuju-San Nichi [The 863 days of the Suzuki Administration]. Tokyo: Gyosei Mondai Kenkyusho, 1983.
 

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