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The BBC's Linda Duffin
"He wielded tremendous influence"
 real 28k

Japan Analyst, Phil Deans
"He was always a source of advice and reassurance"
 real 28k

Monday, 19 June, 2000, 01:17 GMT 02:17 UK
Japanese kingmaker dies
takeshita with samaranch
Takeshita was an important international figure
Former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, who was forced from office by scandal but remained a top powerbroker in Japanese politics, has died after a long illness.

Mr Takeshita, 76, died of respiratory failure at a Tokyo hospital early on Monday.

He had served as premier from 1987 to 1989, and announced his retirement from politics last month after more than a year in the hospital.

little
Takeshita had been in hospital for over a year
In international financial circles, he is probably best known for agreeing as finance minister to the famed Plaza Accord in 1985, when the world's rich nations agreed to push down the dollar and send the yen soaring.

That accord ushered in a series of Japanese interest rate cuts that gave rise to the nation's "bubble economy" of soaring land and share prices.

When the bubble burst at the start of the 1990s, Japan entered a decade of stagnation that included its worst recession of the post-war era.

Scandal

Mr Takeshita was forced from office in 1989 after admitting accepting illicit stock and cash donations from a marketing and information firm - he was never charged.

He continued to wield considerable behind-the-scenes power as head of the Liberal Democratic Party's largest faction in parliament.

He handed control of the party to Keizo Obuchi in the mid-1990s, who was prime minister until he died after a stroke in April this year.

Japanese PM Keizo Obuchi.
Takeshita was Keizo Obuchi's mentor

After his protege Mr Obuchi died, the chief cabinet secretary spent time in Mr Takeshita's hospital room, leading to speculation that he had a hand in picking Obuchi's successor even on his sickbed.

Little information had been released about Mr Takeshita's own health.

His retirement speech was recorded by aides, and part of it was played over national television.

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See also:

02 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Keizo Obuchi
03 Apr 00 | Business
Japan's economy shakes off worries
28 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Opposition boycotts Obuchi speech
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