Ex-Komeito Head Takeiri, Who Worked for Ties with China, Dies at 97

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Yoshikatsu Takeiri in 1990

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Former Komeito chief Yoshikatsu Takeiri, who played an important role for Japan’s diplomatic normalization with China in 1972, died of pneumonia at a hospital in Fukuoka on Saturday, sources said Tuesday. He was 97.

A native of Nagano Prefecture, Takeiri won a seat on the Diet for the first time in the January 1967 election for the House of Representatives, running in the race from a Tokyo constituency, after serving as a member of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly.

Takeiri became chairman of Komeito, then an opposition party, later that year and led the party for about 20 years with Junya Yano, then secretary general of the party. Takeiri also led the opposition bloc among Komeito, the then Japan Socialist Party and the then Democratic Socialist Party. Komeito is now the coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

In Japan-China negotiations for diplomatic normalization, Takeiri visited China in late July 1972 as a de facto special envoy of then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and met with then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai.

Records of the meeting, handed to Tanaka and other Japanese officials, were called “Takeiri memo.” The trip led to Tanaka’s visit to China in September 1972 and eventually to the signing of the Japan-China joint statement on normalizing the two countries’ diplomatic relations later that month.

In the 1984 LDP leadership election, Takeiri attempted to field then LDP deputy leader Susumu Nikaido with then DSP chief Ryosaku Sasaki. Takeiri stepped down as Komeito chairman in 1986.

Takeiri did not run in the 1990 lower house election and retired from politics. He was elected to the chamber eight times.

Takeiri was severely criticized by Komeito and Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai, its support base, after his memoir pointing to close connection between the party and the religious group that could go against the principle of the separation of politics and religion was run on a national newspaper in 1998.