Obuchi, Keizo

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Keizo Obuchi (kā´zō ōbōō´chē), 1937–2000, Japanese politician, prime minister of Japan (1998–2000), b. Nakanojo. The son of a silk manufacturer and politician, Obuchi graduated from Waseda Univ. in 1962 and in 1963 was elected to the parliament seat once held by his late father. A member of the Liberal Democratic party (LDP), Obuchi rose within it to become leader of the largest party faction by 1992. In 1997 he became foreign minister in Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's government, and he succeeded Hashimoto as prime minister after the LDP suffered electoral losses in 1998. Known for his quiet, self-effacing style, Obuchi was able to help stabilize Japan's faltering economy and calm its divisive political wrangling. In Apr., 2000, after being incapacitated by a stroke, Obuchi was replaced as prime minister by Yoshiro Mori.