The Diplomat | Author
Ichiro Ozawa has been a key figure in Japanese politics for close on half a century. The longest-serving member of the House of Representatives with 16-terms in office, he started his political career in 1969 with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), serving in key posts such as Secretary General of the party, Minister for Home Affairs, and Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission.
Ozawa became determined to end the one-party dominance of the LDP, which had governed Japan continuously since 1955, and to transform Japan by establishing a two-party system with periodic changes of government expressing the will of the people. In 1993, he left the LDP to form a new reform-minded party as an alternative party of government. Ozawa played a crucial role in the moves to unseat the LDP and establish the Hosokawa coalition government after a general election held in July 1993.
After the coalition collapsed, Ozawa returned to opposition and continued his efforts to create an alternative party to rival the LDP and give genuine political choice to the people of Japan. He joined the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest opposition, in 2003 and became its President in 2006. Ozawa masterminded the DPJ’s historic electoral victory and the formation of the Hatoyama Government in September 2009. He is currently the President of the People’s Life Party &Taro Yamamoto and Friends.