Former Japan Top Bureaucrat Nobuo Ishihara Dies at 96

Jiji Press
Nobuo Ishihara

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Nobuo Ishihara, who served as deputy chief cabinet secretary for more than seven years under seven Japanese prime ministers, died of multiple organ failure on Sunday. He was 96.

After serving as vice minister at the Home Affairs Ministry, now part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ishihara became deputy chief cabinet secretary, the post of top bureaucrat, in November 1987 under then Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita. He continued to serve in the position under six subsequent prime ministers—Sosuke Uno, Toshiki Kaifu, Kiichi Miyazawa, Morihiro Hosokawa, Tsutomu Hata and Tomiichi Murayama.

When Emperor Hirohito died in 1989, Ishihara oversaw the era change from Showa to Heisei and the Taiso no Rei state funeral.

Ishihara coordinated the government’s response to a massive earthquake that hit the Kobe western Japan area in January 1995 and led efforts to aid affected people before quitting the government the following month. He unsuccessfully ran for Tokyo governorship in April that year.

The number of prime ministers he supported as deputy chief cabinet secretary, at seven, is the highest on record. Ishihara stayed in the post for some seven years and three months in total, the third longest ever, after Kazuhiro Sugita, who served in the position for around eight years and nine months under then Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, and Teijiro Furukawa, who retained the top bureaucrat post for some eight years and seven months under Murayama and four subsequent prime ministers—Ryutaro Hashimoto, Keizo Obuchi, Yoshiro Mori and Junichiro Koizumi.

In 2000, Ishihara was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by the government. He was invited to speak on many occasions at government meetings on issues such as reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and ways to reduce the Emperor’s official duties.