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Yoshiro Mori

For the mathematician, see Yoshiro Mori (mathematician).

Yoshiro Mori
森 喜朗
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
5 April 2000 – 26 April 2001
Monarch Akihito
Preceded by Mikio Aoki (Acting)
Succeeded by Junichiro Koizumi
Minister of Construction
In office
8 August 1995 – 11 January 1996
Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
Preceded by Koken Nosaka
Succeeded by Eiichi Nakao
Minister of International Trade and Industry
In office
12 December 1992 – 20 July 1993
Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa
Preceded by Kozo Watanabe
Succeeded by Hiroshi Kumagai
Minister of Education
In office
27 December 1983 – 1 November 1984
Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone
Preceded by Mitsuo Setoyama
Succeeded by Hikaru Matsunaga
Personal details
Born (1937-07-14) 14 July 1937 (age 77)
Nomi, Japan
Political party Liberal Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Chieko Maki
Children Yūki Mori
Yoko Fujimoto
Alma mater Waseda University
Website Yoshiro Mori WebSite

Yoshirō Mori (森 喜朗 Mori Yoshirō?, born 14 July 1937) is a Japanese politician who served as the 85th and 86th Prime Minister of Japan starting at 5 April 2000 ending 26 April 2001. Described as having "the heart of a flea and the brain of a shark,"[1][2] he was an unpopular prime minister mainly remembered today for his many gaffes and situationally inappropriate actions. He is currently President of the Japan Rugby Football Union as well as the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians' Union.

Early life and education

Yoshiro Mori was born in present-day Nomi, Ishikawa, Japan, as the son of Shigeki and Kaoru Mori, wealthy rice farmers with a history in politics, as both his father and grandfather served as the mayor of Neagari, Ishikawa Prefecture. His mother died when Yoshiro was seven years old. He studied at the Waseda University in Tokyo, joining the rugby union club.


Afterwards Mori joined the Sankei Shimbun, a conservative newspaper in Japan. In 1962, he left the newspaper and became secretary of a Diet member, and in 1969, he was elected in the lower house at age 32. He was reelected 10 consecutive times. In 1980, he was involved in the Recruit scandal about receiving unlisted shares of Recruit (company) before they were publicly traded, and selling them after they were made public for a profit of approximately 1 million dollars. He was education minister in 1983 and 1984, international trade and industry minister in 1992 and 1993, and construction minister in 1995 and 1996.

In 1999, Mori began to assume control of the Mitsuzuka faction (formerly Abe faction) that had been headed by Hiroshi Mitsuzuka in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).[3]

Prime minister

Mori's predecessor, Keizō Obuchi, suffered a stroke on 2 April 2000 and was unable to continue this office. Therefore, Mori, who was the secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), became the prime minister.

The media attempted to criticize his position in office as marred with a long list of faux-pas, unpopular decisions, PR mistakes and gaffes:

  • One of the earliest occurred at Obuchi's funeral, when Mori failed to clap and bow properly before Obuchi's shrine, an important portion of a traditional Japanese funeral rite. The other world leaders present at the funeral, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, performed the ritual correctly.[4]
  • At a meeting of political leaders in Tokyo, Mori described Japan as "the nation of the deities, with the Emperor at its center." This "divine nation statement" stirred controversy in Japan, as the statement sounded like he was in support of offering the Emperor absolute power, which Emperor Showa explicitly renounced in the Ningen Sengen.[5] The media reported it as a "gaffe" but Mori insisted that he meant what he said.
  • During the election campaign of 2000, one of his most notable "slips of the tongue" happened in a speech in Niigata on 20 June. When asked about recent newspaper reports that showed that roughly half of the voters still had not decided whom to vote for, he replied “If they still have no interest in the election, it would be all right if they just slept in on that [election] day.” [1]
  • According to the Japanese media, before the 26th G8 summit in 2000, Mori was given some English training. Upon meeting U.S. President Bill Clinton, Mori was to say "How are you". Instead, he slipped up and said "Who are you". Clinton answered, "Well, I'm Hillary Clinton's husband", to which Mori replied, "Me too". However, this never actually happened. The media did not apologize for this fabrication.
  • Mori's biggest public relations disaster was to continue a round of golf after receiving the news that the US submarine USS Greeneville had accidentally hit and sunk the Japanese fishing ship Ehime Maru during an emergency surface drill on 9 February 2001, resulting in 9 dead students and teachers.[6]
  • Mori promised then newly elected ROC President Chen Shui-bian that he would celebrate if Chen won the 2000 presidential elections. This promise was not fulfilled until late 2003, at the time Chen was running for re-election to a second term.

Towards the end of his term, his approval rating dropped to single digits. He was replaced by Junichiro Koizumi on 26 April 2001.

Mori remains a member of the House of Representatives, representing the Second District of Ishikawa. He is married to Chieko (born: Chieko Maki), a fellow Waseda University student, and he has a son, Yūki Mori, and a daughter, Yoko Fujimoto. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, in 2004.


Mori appointed three cabinets. The third cabinet is officially referred to as a continuation of the second cabinet, as the changes came amid a major administrative realignment in January 2001 that eliminated several cabinet positions and renamed several key ministries.

Cabinets of Yoshiro Mori
First Cabinet
(April 2000)
Second Cabinet
(July 2000)
Second Cabinet, Realigned
(Jan. 2001)
Chief Cabinet Secretary and Okinawa Development Mikio Aoki Yasuo Fukuda Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda
Administrative Reform, Okinawa and Northern Territories Ryutaro Hashimoto
Foreign Affairs Yōhei Kōno Yōhei Kōno Yōhei Kōno
Justice Hideo Usui Okiharu Yasuoka Masahiko Komura
Finance Kiichi Miyazawa Kiichi Miyazawa Kiichi Miyazawa
Education Hirofumi Nakasone Tadamori Oshima Nobutaka Machimura
Health and Welfare Yuya Niwa Yūji Tsushima Health, Labor and Welfare Chikara Sakaguchi
Labor Takamori Makino Yoshio Yoshikawa
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tokuichiro Tamazawa Yoichi Tani Yoshio Yatsu
International Trade and Industry Takashi Fukaya Takeo Hiranuma Economy, Trade and Industry Takeo Hiranuma
Transport Toshihiro Nikai Hajime Morita Land, Infrastructure and Transport Chikage Oogi
Construction Masaaki Nakayama Chikage Oogi
Home Affairs Kosuke Hori Mamoru Nishida Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Toranosuke Katayama
Posts and Telecommunications Eita Yashiro Kozo Hirabayashi
Management and Coordination Agency Kunihiro Tsuzuki Kunihiro Tsuzuki
Japan Defense Agency Tsutomu Kawara Kazuo Torashima Toshitsugu Saito
Economic Planning Agency Taichi Sakaiya Taichi Sakaiya Economic and Fiscal Policy Tarō Asō
Environment Kayoko Shimizu Yoriko Kawaguchi Yoriko Kawaguchi
Financial Reconstruction Sadakazu Tanigaki Hideyuki Aizawa Financial Affairs Hakuo Yanagisawa
National Public Safety Commission Bunmei Ibuki
Council for Science and Technology Policy Takashi Sasagawa

Resignation from politics

On Sunday July 22, 2012 Mori announced that he would not run in the next house of representatives election.[7]

Japanese rugby

Mori played the game of rugby union at Waseda University and developed a passion for it there, though he was never a high-level player. In June 2005, he became President of the Japan Rugby Football Union and it had been hoped his clout would help secure the 2011 Rugby Union World Cup for Japan, but instead the event was awarded to New Zealand in late November 2005.[8] This led former PM Yoshiro Mori to accuse the Commonwealth of Nations countries of "passing the ball around their friends."[9] (However at a special International Rugby Board meeting held in Dublin on 28 July 2009, Japan was announced as the host for the 2019 RWC.[10])

Once when he discussed his relationship with the other parties in the ruling coalition, he stated, "In rugby, one person doesn't become a star, one person plays for all, and all play for one."[11]



External links

  • Official website (in Japanese)
Political offices
Preceded by
Mikio Aoki
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Junichiro Koizumi
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Mikio Aoki
Chair of the G8
Succeeded by
Giuliano Amato

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