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Wednesday, July 29, 1998 Published at 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Kiichi Miyazawa: plagued by bribery

Mr Miyazawa (left) and Keizo Obuchi

After a long career that has taken him both to the height of Japan's political powerhouse, and has seen him embroiled in scandal, Kiichi Miyazawa is to become Japan's new finance minister.

It is a position that the Prime Minister-elect, Mr Obuchi, described as the most important job in Japan.

At 78, Mr Miyazawa has already served as both finance minister and prime minister. But both positions ended in his resignation over bribery scandals.

Victories and setbacks

Mr Miyazawa won his first election victory in 1953, representing the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima and its environs, and has since served in 13 cabinets.

He was head of Japan's economic planning agency before becoming finance minister in 1986.

But after two years in the post, Mr Miyazawa resigned when close aides were linked to a scandal involving the issuing of share preferences in return for political favours.

Despite this setback, in 1991 he became prime minister. However, his comeback proved to be short-lived.

His cabinet was dissolved in 1993 following a successful no-confidence motion due to another bribery scandal involving party members and the transport firm Sagawa Express Ltd.

Making mistakes

The BBC correspondent in Tokyo says that despite his experience, the veteran politician does not always get it right.

Critics blame Mr Miyazawa low-interest rate policy for helping produce the "bubble economy" of the late 1980s, which collapsed in the early 1990s with devastating effect.

In 1992 he said the economy had touched bottom and was about to take off. Six years later Japan is suffering its worst recession since the war.

However, Mr Miyazawa enjoys a close relationship with many top finance officials in the United States and his international connections are seen as vital attributes in the current situation.

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