Ichirō Ozawa - Early Career

Early Career

Ozawa was born in Tokyo on 24 May 1942. His father, Saeki, was a self-made businessman, who was elected to the House of Representatives from Iwate district. The hometown of his family was Mizusawa, Iwate, which remained the stories of the Emishi leader Aterui's resistance movement. Ozawa attended Keio University and the postgraduate school in Nihon University, majoring in law. After his father's death he was first elected to the Diet of Japan in 1969, becoming a strong supporter of Kakuei Tanaka and his faction in the LDP. In the 1980s, he became one of the popular young leaders in the LDP, along with Tsutomu Hata and Ryutaro Hashimoto, both of whom were later elected as prime ministers, in the Tanaka/Takeshita faction. His rivalry with Hashimoto was particularly prominent, being dubbed the Ichi-Ryu War by the press.

Ozawa married Kazuko, the daughter of a wealthy Tanaka supporter. With Kazuko, Ozawa fathered three sons who were raised in Iwate Prefecture.

After long service on key parliamentary committees, Ozawa's first ministerial appointment was in 1985 when he took on the Home Affairs portfolio under Yasuhiro Nakasone. Nakasone was impressed with his negotiation skills, particularly his ability to persuade opposition parties to pass difficult consumption tax legislation. These backroom skills led to Ozawa's election as LDP Secretary General in 1989.

Ozawa was a strong proponent of political reform, and he pointed out Japan's diplomatic disability in international affairs, particularly revealed in the Gulf War in 1990.

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