Member of the House of Representatives
|In office |
1979 – Incumbent
|Constituency||Fukuoka 8th District (Elected 9 times)|
|Majority||145,229 (56.89%) in 2005|
|In office |
October 31, 2005 – August 27, 2007
|Preceded by||Nobutaka Machimura|
|Succeeded by||Nobutaka Machimura|
|In office |
September 22, 2003 – October 31, 2005
|Preceded by||Toranosuke Katayama|
|Succeeded by||Heizō Takenaka|
|In office |
November 7, 1996 – September 11, 1997
|Preceded by||Shusei Tanaka|
|Succeeded by||Koji Omi|
|Born||September 20, 1940 (1940-09-20) |
Iizuka, Fukuoka prefecture
|Political party||Liberal Democratic Party|
|Relations||See: Family Tree|
During a meeting of the Kono Group in 2001, Aso drew criticism when he said that "those burakumin can't become prime minister," a statement directed at Hiromu Nonaka, a burakumin member of the Diet. Aso's office later attempted to clarify the statements by saying that they were misunderstood.
Aso, a Roman Catholic, was born in Iizuka, Fukuoka. His father, Takakichi Aso, was the chairman of the Aso Cement Company and a close associate of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka; his mother was Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida's daughter. Aso is also a great-great-grandson of Toshimichi Okubo, and his wife is the third daughter of Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki. His younger sister, Nobuko, is the wife of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, a first cousin of the Emperor Akihito.
Aso first graduated from the Faculty of Politics and Economics at Gakushuin University. He then studied in the United States at Stanford University, but was cut off by his family, who feared he was becoming too Americanized. After making his way back to Japan on a ship, he left once more to study at the London School of Economics.
Aso was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in October 1979, and has since been re-elected eight times. In 1988, he became Parliamentary Vice Minister for Education.
He joined the Cabinet of Junichiro Koizumi in 2003 as Minister of Internal Affairs, Posts and Communications. On October 31, 2005, he became Minister for Foreign Affairs. There has been some speculation that his position in the Cabinet was due to his membership in the Kono Group, an LDP caucus led by pro-Chinese lawmaker Yohei Kono: by appointing Aso as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Koizumi may have been attempting to "rein in" Kono's statements critical of Japanese foreign policy.
Aso was one of the final candidates to replace Koizumi as prime minister in 2006, but lost the internal party election to Shinzo Abe by a wide margin. Both Abe and Asō are conservative on foreign policy issues and have taken confrontational stances towards some East Asian nations, particularly North Korea and, to a lesser extent, the People's Republic of China. Abe was considered a more "moderate" politician than the more "hard-line" Aso, and led Aso in opinion polling within Japan.
On September 14, 2007, shortly after Abe announced his resignation, Aso announced his candidacy to replace Abe as Prime Minister. Aso was initially considered to be a leading candidate for the position but was soon eclipsed by Yasuo Fukuda, a more "dovish" politician supported by Nobutaka Machimura, Fukushiro Nukaga, and reportedly by Koizumi as well. Aso acknowledged that he would most likely lose to Fukuda, but said that he wanted to run so that there would be an open election, saying that otherwise the LDP would face criticism for making its choice "through back-room deals". In the leadership election, held on September 23, Fukuda defeated Aso, receiving 330 votes against 197 votes for Asō.
In 2001, as economics minister, he was quoted as saying he wanted to make Japan a country where "rich Jews" would like to live.
On October 15, 2005, he praised Japan for having "one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture and one race," and stated that it was the only such country in the world. At a lecture in Nagasaki Prefecture, Aso referred to a Japanese peace initiative on the Middle East, stating, "The Japanese were trusted because they had never been involved in exploitation there, or been involved in fights or fired machine guns. Japan is doing what the Americans can't do. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces"
Mainichi Daily News reported that on March 9, 2006 he referred to Taiwan as a "law-abiding country", which drew strong protest from Beijing, which considers the island a part of China. His implication that Taiwan is an independent nation contradicts the agreement made between Japan and China in 1972 (the Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China) that the Beijing rather than Taipei government be considered the sole legal government of China and that Taiwan be considered "an inalienable part of the territory of the People's Republic of China."
On December 21, 2005, he said China was "a neighbour with one billion people equipped with nuclear bombs and has expanded its military outlays by double digits for 17 years in a row, and it is unclear as to what this is being used for. It is beginning to be a considerable threat." On January 28, 2006, he called for the emperor to visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine. He later backtracked on the comment, but stated that he hoped such a visit would be possible in the future.
Aso is a fan of manga since childhood. He had his family send manga magazines from Japan while he was studying at Stanford University. In 2003, he described reading about 10 or 20 manga magazines every week (it not only manga, but also the amount of reading is large in his case) and talked about his impression of various manga that was not an improvisation. When he was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, he established the International Manga Award for non-Japanese manga artists in 2007.
As a result of this background, he has acquired popularity with anime and manga fans. He is nicknamed "Rozen Aso" by them, originating the fact that he had been witnessed reading the manga "Rozen Maiden" in Tokyo International Airport. It was not clear when the sighting information had flowed to the internet in 2006, but he admitted in an interview that he had read the manga (but he said he did not remember whether read it in the airport), and described his impressions of the manga.
Thus, his candidacy for the position of Japanese Prime Minister following the announced resignation of incumbent Shinzo Abe actually caused shares among some manga publishers and companies related to the manga industry to rise significantly.
|Ōkubo Toshimichi|| ||Mishima Michitsune|
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|Makino Nobuaki|| ||Mineko|| || || ||Takichi Aso|
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| || ||Yukiko|| ||Shigeru Yoshida|| ||Taro Aso|
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|Kenichi Yoshida|| ||Kazuko|| || || ||Takakichi Aso|| ||Zenko Suzuki|
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|Prince of Mikasa|| ||Princess of Mikasa|| ||Taro Aso|| ||Chikako|| ||Shunichi Suzuki|
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|Princess Akiko|| ||Princess Yōko|