Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nakagawa Shoichi, a cruel twist of fate

Shoichi Nakagawa at a press event at
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

When fate strikes relentlessly...

Following his father Ichiro Nakagawa* in dramatic death,
Japan's former vice minister Shoichi Nakagawa was found dead
in a bed in his house in Tokyo, Japanese media reported on
Sunday, citing Tokyo Metropolitan Police. No external
injuries were found on his body, Kyodo News Agency reported.

Former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa has been found dead
at his home in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, Nakagawa, 56, was lying
face down on a bed on the second floor of his home without
any apparent external wounds, according to the Tokyo police.

He was among the big Liberal Democratic Party members who
lost in the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election, in
which the Democratic Party of Japan clinched a landslide
victory over the LDP to oust it from power. Nakagawa, who
won his first lower house seat in 1983, stepped down as
finance minister and financial services minister in February
after appearing to be drunk at a press conference of a Group
of Seven financial leaders meeting in Rome.

He was a Japanese conservative politician in the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), who served as Minister of Finance
until February 17, 2009. Nakagawa was born in Tokyo and
attended Azabu High School, graduated from the law faculty of
the University of Tokyo in 1978 and entered the Industrial
Bank of Japan.

His father was prominent Hokkaido politician Ichiro Nakagawa.
Ichiro Nakagawa was the late director general of the Science
and Technology Agency, who mysteriously committed suicide in
a hotel in 1983 although he was to be assigned to a high
position at the LDP... Nakagawa was first elected in that
year as a House of Representatives member, succeeding his
father in a Hokkaido district. He served eighth terms.

Although Shoichi was born in Tokyo and had lived there his
whole life, he ran to replace his father and succeeded him.
At that time, he had a widely publicized conflict with his
father's secretary, Muneo Suzuki, who also ran for a seat in
a neighboring district. (Suzuki was forced to resign on
corruption charges in 2002.)

In 1998, he became Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
under Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, and in 2003, he became
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in the cabinet of
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He served as Agriculture
Minister from October 2005 to September 2006, when incoming
prime minister Shinzo Abe appointed Nakagawa as chairman of
the Policy Research Council of the LDP.

In December 2006, Kyodo News Agency quoted Nakagawa as having
said the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were
"truly unforgivable on humanitarian grounds" and reported the
politician's concerns over the possession of nuclear weapons
by North Korea.

Shoichi Nakagawa, was named chairman of the LDP's Policy
Research Council, he had a political stance close to LDP ex
party President Shinzo Abe, sharing his hawkishness on North
Korea and desire to revise the Constitution. But his
appointment to one of the party's three top posts to support
Abe invited jealousy from party colleagues, as he has served
in key party and Cabinet positions throughout the 5 years of
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi mandate.

Nakagawa and Abe had jointly led a group of lawmakers of
their generation promoting nationalist views on history
education, and were also on friendly terms with each other.
Nakagawa, like Abe, called for economic sanctions on North
Korea and a new Constitution to replace the one instituted
while Japan was under U.S. Occupation.

Serving as minister of economy, trade and industry and then
as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Nakagawa
promoted trade liberalization, taking advantage of his career
as a kingmaker in farm policy. As farm minister, however, he
did not budge in rejecting U.S. pressure to lift the beef
import ban imposed due to concerns over mad cow disease.

During the G7 meeting of finance ministers in Rome on
February 14, 2009, Nakagawa then minister of Finance was seen
to be slurring his words and exhibiting other odd behavior,
which some attributed to alcohol. However, he stated that
the reason for his drowsiness and slurred speech was that he
had taken too much cold medicine before the meeting.

Despite calls for his resignation by opposition parties at
the time, Nakagawa did not immediately resign. Prime
Minister Taro Aso supported him and called for him to
continue his duties as Finance Minister. However, on
February 17 Nakagawa announced that he had chosen to resign,
and his resignation was accepted by Prime Minister Aso.

(Shoichi Nakagawa interviewed by RTL , AFP, Le Monde at LDP Nagatacho Nov 2006, 27th arranged by Foreign Press Center Japan)

As a journalist I knew Nakagawa Shoichi-san for years, since
he became a major VIP in LDP, we did not share the same views
on Japan politics but established trustful working
relationship and I knew he committed so much to his politics.
His father tragic death in the 80 s' were uncontrollable
stigmata of a relentless pain. In addition to his drinking
problem he also had a weak myocardial condition. Politics is
cruel and we must never forget it as media and I offer my
sincere condolences to his widow.

* Nakagawa Ichiro, "politician (1925-1983) born in Hokkaido.
Elected to the Diet in 1963, he created a secret
ultra-conservative group, the Seiran-kai -the Society of the
Blue Storm- (other members were Ishihara Shintaro, Watanabe
Michio, Fujio, Masayuki) in 1973, in an attempt to
destabilize the party in power, the Jiminto (LDP). Distraught
at not being able to take over the presidency of that party,
he committed suicide (by hanging)." In : Japanese
Encyclopedia by Louis Frederic and Kathe Roth Harvard
University Press 2005.

And this:

"In 1973, the first oil shock occurred, causing wholesale
prices to jump by 31.4 percent. At the same time, the dollar
was devalued. Reforms in the international monetary system
floated the yen and created a sudden influx of available
money that fueled real estate investment. This in turn
fueled a runaway inflation spiral that deeply hurt the
nation's salaried workers. Domestic affairs had been
considered Tanaka's greatest forté; ironically it turned out
to be his weakest ability. His public image took a severe
beating in 1973. Further upsetting the public tranquility in
this year was the right-wing, intra-party formation of
Seirankai (the Blue Storm Group). The thirty-one-member
group, which included such notable politicians as Michio
Watanabe, Ichiro Nakagawa, Masayuki Fujio and Shintaro
Ishihara, created a public sensation when they sealed a
written pledge of unity in Yakuza style, with their blood.
The group was staunchly anti-communist and deeply opposed to
Tanaka's opening of China. The existence of such a group
within the LDP was very frightening to the nation's union
members. The Seirankai success was followed in March of 1974
by the presentation of a bill that would have officially
sanctioned Yasukuni Shrine as a memorial to the war dead.
The Shrine seemed to symbolize, at least to a lot of
Japanese, a return to prewar policies. Insofar as the young
men who died for their country had little say in the
government logic that lead to their deaths, a shrine to them
wouldn't seem to be a horrible thing, but in Japan it was
still an emotionally charged issue that cost Tanaka a lot of
support, even though the bill was discarded before it reached
the House of Councilors."

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