Ozawa, Ichiro

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Ichiro Ozawa, 1942–, Japanese political leader. The son of a prominent politician, Ozawa was elected (1969) to his late father's parliamentary seat. Then a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP), he served in Prime Minister Yasuhiro's cabinet in the mid-1980s. In 1993 he quit the LDP and helped found the opposition party that briefly formed a government. During the next years Ozawa formed a series of opposition parties; he also became a behind-the-scenes power broker, earning the nickname "Shadow Shogun." In 2003 he merged his Liberal party into the Democratic party (DPJ), and was (2006–9) leader of the DPJ until a political-funding scandal forced him to step down. Nonetheless, Ozawa was widely credited with engineering the DPJ's 2009 victory, which ended some five decades of LDP rule. He served (2009–10) as DPJ secretary-general, but a fundraising scandal again led him to resign. (He was acquitted of charges related to the scandal in 2012.) Ozawa later challenged (2010) Prime Minister Naoto Kan for the party leadership and lost. In 2012 he and his faction left the DPJ after the party sought to enact an increase in the sales tax, and formed the People's Livelihoods First party.

See his Blueprint for a New Japan (1993).