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    Japanese Finance Minster Takeo Fukuda was the gust of honour at a Foreign Press in Japan coffee-seminar at the Foreign Press Club in central Tokyo on Tuesday April 23rd.

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    Background: Japanese Finance Minster Takeo Fukuda was the gust of honour at a Foreign Press in Japan coffee-seminar at the Foreign Press Club in central Tokyo on Tuesday April 23rd.

    Tokyo, Reuter -- finance Minister Takeo Fukuda is a brilliant economist and politician who lost out in a battle for the Premiership of Japan in 1972.

    When he accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka to become Finance Minister in November 1973, he went to the post he had held for six years during the premiership of Mr. Eisaku Sato.

    It was Mr. Tanaka whom he unsuccessfully challenged in 1972 for leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (L.D.P.) and thus automatically the premiership.

    At the time the slim, frail-looking Mr. Fukuda indicated that he would again seek the leadership of the L.D.P. in elections scheduled for 1975. Meanwhile he went back to being an ordinary backbench member of Parliament but at the end of 1972 was appointed Director-General of the Administrative Management Agency.

    His appointment then a relatively minor post in the 21-member cabinet was seen as a move to strengthen party unity in the face of sweeping electoral gains by the Socialist and Communist parties.

    In November 1973, Premier Tanaka, confronted by a major oil crisis and worsening inflation, reinforced his economic ministers.

    He persuaded Mr. Fukuda, his former rival, to serve as Finance Minster in place of Mr. Kiichi Aichi who died a few days earlier.

    Mr. Fukuda went back to the Finance Ministry determined to be resolute in fighting economic problems. He had previously criticised Mr. Tanaka's economic growth policy, favouring instead stabilised growth. He had also stressed the urgency of the fight against inflation.

    Takeo Fukuda was born on January 14, 1905 in Gumma, northwest of Tokyo. He came from a wealthy farming family and is the second of four sons. He had four sisters.

    At school, Takeo was a star pupil, but in general conduct his marks were lower -- because he had dared to challenge his mathematics teacher on a simpler way of answering a question.

    He went on to attend high school - one known for its specialisation on elite students. He studied French as his major course.

    In 1929 he graduated from the law school of Tokyo University. He passed tough entrance examinations both for the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Japan. He chose a civil service career at the Finance Ministry.

    In 1930, Mr. Fukuda was appointed to serve as financial secretary at the Japanese embassies in both London and Paris.

    He stayed n Britain for three years and learned to play golf--but not as well as his wife Mie, who usually beats him on the score card.

    World War II fond him assigned to China where he served as a Government adviser based in Nanking. He arrived there six months before the Japanese attack on Pearl harbour in December 1941 which brought the United States into the war.

    Mr. Fukuda remained in the civil service throughout the 1940s, steadily moving up in rank. He became director of the Finance Ministry's Budget Bureau In 1947.

    His work was so brilliant that he was recommended for the post of deputy Finance Minster but lost his opportunity when his name was mentioned in a public corruption case. He was later cleared of any complicity in the affair.

    In October 1952 Mr. fukuda entered politics as an Independent and was elected to the House of Representatives, the lower Hose of Parliament.

    This proved to be a launching pad for his successful political career. In 1954, he joined Mr. Ichiro Hatoyama's Japan Democratic Party and became righthand man to then Party Secretary-General Nobusuke Kishi, who served as Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960.

    Mr. Kishi, who was adopted by the Kishi family, is a brother of Mr. Sato.

    In June 1958 Mr. Fukuda became the Policy Board Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party, a conservative grouping formed out of a merger of the Democratic and Liberal Parties.

    From then until his defeat for the Premiership in 1972, Mr. Fukuda held either high cabinet or party jobs. After serving for more than six years as Finance Minister in the Sato cabinet, he was appointed Foreign Minister in July 1971.

    He was so closely identified with Japan's economic policy that even after his new appointment, many politicians continued to call him Finance Minister.

    As Foreign Minister, Mr. Fukuda specialised in what became known as "duck diplomacy" towards China. The phrase arose from his secret efforts to normalise Japan's relations with Peking -- efforts which were both praised and criticised here.

    In reply, he said: "A duck may seem stationary on the surface but its web feet are moving underneath."
    Mr. Fukuda lives in a modes home with his wife whom he first tutored and then courted when she was a high school student and he was at university. They have three sons and two daughters and many grandchildren.

    For relaxing in his home, Mr. Fukuda enjoys cooking special japanese dishes or playing chess, known in Japanese as "Go."

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