• Short Summary

    Nearly 500 Japanese politicians are scheduled to choose a new Prime Minister in July following the retirement on June 17 of 71-year-old Eisaku Sate--who had held the post record of eight years.

  • Description

    Nearly 500 Japanese politicians are scheduled to choose a new Prime Minister in July following the retirement on June 17 of 71-year-old Eisaku Sate--who had held the post record of eight years.

    The two leading contenders for the seat are Japan's Foreign Minister Takee Fukuda--Mr. Sate's chosen heir--and Trade Minister Kakuei Tanaka, a self-made man of 54 who has been called a "computerised bulldozer" for his quick decisions.

    Whoever is chosen will become Prime Minister of the world's third richest nation without having to face the people. Voting by members of the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party (L.D.P.), which has dominated Japanese government since the end of the second world war, will be for the party president. And the president becomes Prime Minister automatically.

    But the new premier will have only a few months to prove his mottle to the voters, who are expected to go to the polls in general elections either later this year or early next year.

    Both man have pledged to follow the basic domestic and foreign policies laid down by the L.D.P. The new government is expected to make serious efforts to normalise relations with China, negotiate a peace treaty with the Soviet Union and at the same time, maintain and improve good relations with the United States by minimising economic friction. At home, the government is expected to switch the emphasis from higher production to improving the quality of life in the fields of social welfare and environment.

    Mr. Fukuda, who is 67, is the favoured candidate. He was born in January 1905 into a modestly wealthy farming family. He read law at Tokyo University and entered the Finance Ministry on his graduation--moving steadily up the bureaucratic ladder throughout the 1930's and during the war.

    Then, when the post of Vice Finance Minister was almost within has reach, he was alleged to have been involved in a bribery case. Mr. Fukuda resigned and was not exonerated by the courts until some ten years later.

    Known as a cautious economist, the Foreign Minister entered politics under the banner of the L.D.P., and from 1958 held either cabinet or party executive posts--Foreign Minister, Agricultural and Forestry Minister, Finance Minister twice, and senior party posts. He moved into the Foreign Ministry this year.

    Trade Minister Kakuei Tanaka was born in May 1918, the second sen of a peer farmer on Japan's northern coast. He fought successfully against inveterate stammering by reading books aloud and singing songs. He was educated only to primary school level, and at the age of 15, went to Tokyo to work for a construction company. After being discharged from the army for illness, he built up his own haulage business.

    Mr. Tanaka was elected to parliament at the age of 29 and went on to become Japan's youngest cabinet minister (Postal Affairs) since the second world war. Since then he has held either cabinet or executive posts in the L.D.P. and served three times as the country's Finance Minister.

    In May this year, Mr. Tanaka presented a seven-point programme designed to offset critics who say Japanese firms are flooding world markets with products at prices considered uneconomical by their foreign rivals. And he added that he would accept all political responsibility if the new measures failed to avert revaluation of the yan--as has been predicted in some quarters.

    This Visnews film shows Mr. Tanaka explaining the programme to foreign journalists and contains exclusive coverage of Mr. Fukuda at his home in Tokyo.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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