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Friday, July 24, 1998 Published at 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Keizo Obuchi: Profile

[ image:  ]
Keizo Obuchi is the archetypal old-school Japanese politician.

His election as leader of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party is seen by observers as a triumph of the party's long-serving powerbrokers over younger rebels who have called for more dynamic leadership.

Sharp negotiator

David Powers of the BBC's Japanese unit: Obuchi 'a party man, not a policy man'
The soft-spoken and reserved 61-year-old became the youngest person to win election to parliament when he stood in his late father's district north of Tokyo, as a 26-year-old postgraduate student.

He successfully held the seat for decades, and in 1993 was hand-picked by senior Liberal Democratic Party officials to become the party's secretary-general, a key post controlling election campaigns and party funds.

In 1997, he received the Foreign Ministry portfolio in Ryutaro Hashimoto's cabinet due to the fact that he led the LDP's largest faction.

He was a foreign affairs novice, but had other strengths. He was and remains adept at forging behind-the scenes compromises among competing political groups.

One commentator on the Japanese political scene characterised him as "not a great leader, but a good listener". He is also known as a sharp negotiator.

'Very, very ordinary'

Mr Obuchi has a son and two daughters and is a devotee of the Japanese martial art of aikido. He also enjoys golf and amateur radio.

Speaking on television on the eve of the vote, Mr Obuchi said he wanted to undertake "major reforms", but that it would take "the hand of the devil and heart of Buddha" to achieve them.

"I know what people say about me," Mr Obuchi said. "I am said to be very, very ordinary. I am said to be mild and good in nature ...

"But I want you to understand that I am a man who does what should be done."

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