Masayoshi Ōhira

Masayoshi Ōhira
大平 正芳
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
7 December 1978  12 June 1980
Monarch Shōwa
Preceded by Takeo Fukuda
Succeeded by Masayoshi Itō (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1910-03-12)12 March 1910
Kan'onji, Kagawa, Japan
Died 12 June 1980(1980-06-12) (aged 70)
Minato, Tokyo, Japan
Political party Liberal Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Shigeko (1916-1990)
Children Masaki
Alma mater Hitotsubashi University
Religion Anglicanism

Masayoshi Ōhira (大平 正芳 Ōhira Masayoshi, 12 March 1910 – 12 June 1980) was a Japanese politician and the 68th and 69th Prime Minister of Japan from 7 December 1978 to 12 June 1980. Ōhira was the most recent Japanese prime minister to die in office (Keizō Obuchi was removed from office on 5 April 2000 after suddenly falling into a coma, a month before his death in May 2000).

He was born in present-day Kan'onji, Kagawa and attended Hitotsubashi University.

Political career

At the apex of his political life, Ōhira came to represent what were known as "mainstream factions" within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which put him at odds with Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, who led what were known as an "anti-mainstream" faction.[1] Ōhira served as foreign minister in the cabinet of Kakuei Tanaka until mid-July 1974.[2] In a cabinet reshuffle, he was replaced by Toshio Kimura as foreign minister.[2] Ōhira was appointed by Tanaka as finance minister in the same reshuffle and replaced Takeo Fukuda in July 1974.[2]

Ōhira was elected to the presidency of the LDP in late 1978. On 7 December 1978, he was appointed 68th Prime Minister, successfully pushing Takeo Fukuda from his position.[3]

Ōhira was the sixth Christian to hold this office after Hara Takashi, Takahashi Korekiyo, Ichirō Hatoyama, Tetsu Katayama, and Shigeru Yoshida.

In the general election of 1979, the LDP narrowly failed to win an outright majority, but enough independent members of the Diet joined the party to enable Ōhira to remain in office, and he was duly reappointed on 9 November of that year. On 16 May 1980, a vote of no confidence was held in the Diet.

Ōhira expected the motion to fail, and was visibly shaken when it passed 243–187. Sixty-nine members of his own LDP, including Fukuda, abstained. Given the choice of resigning or calling new elections, Ōhira chose the latter and began campaigning for LDP candidates. He was hospitalized for exhaustion on 31 May and died of a massive heart attack 12 days later.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Masayoshi Ito acted in Ōhira's place as deputy after his death. Yoshio Sakurauchi, the Secretary General of LDP, led the LDP to its greatest victory in fifteen years, capitalizing on the sympathy vote generated by Ōhira's death. The Prime Minister was succeeded by Zenkō Suzuki after the election.

G8 summit

In 1979, Ōhira was the chairman and host of the 5th G7 summit in Tokyo but his fatal heart attack on 12 June happened only days before the 6th G7 summit was about to begin in Italy. Ōhira's colleague, Foreign Affairs Minister Saburo Okita, led the delegation which represented Japan in his place. Others joining Okita in traveling to the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore were Finance Minister Noboru Takeshita and the head of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.[4]



  1. Nihon Kōgyō Shinbunsha. (1979). Business Japan. Vol. 24, Nos. 10–12, p. 47.
  2. 1 2 3 "Tanaka reshuffles Japanese cabinet". Daytona Beach Morning. Tokyo. AP. 17 July 1974. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  3. Brown, James Robert. (1999). The ministry of finance, p. 199.
  4. Stokes, Henry Scott. "Japan's Prime Minister Ōhira Dies At 70 as a Critical Election Nears; Japan's Prime Minister Dies at 70 After Heart Attack Plans for Venice Meeting", New York Times. 12 June 1980.
  5. From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia


Political offices
Preceded by
Etsusaburo Shiina
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Succeeded by
Yasumi Kurogane
Preceded by
Zentaro Kosaka
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Etsusaburo Shiina
Preceded by
Etsusaburo Shiina
Minister of International Trade and Industry
Succeeded by
Kiichi Miyazawa
Preceded by
Takeo Fukuda
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Toshio Kimura
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Hideo Bō
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Masayoshi Itō
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Helmut Schmidt
Chairperson of the G7
Succeeded by
Francesco Cossiga
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