(1942- ). Japanese political leader. Born in Yokosuka. From a political family, he studied economics at Keio University and the London School of Economics. He entered politics in 1970 as a member of the Liberal Democratic party (LDP), and two years later was elected to the Diet. Koizumi served as minister of health and welfare in 1988 and from 1996 to 1997. As the leader of a grassroots element of the LDP, with a reputation as a rebel fighting against the party's entrenched conservative leadership, he was elected party president in 2001 and shortly thereafter succeeded Yoshiro Mori as prime minister. A colorful figure, he pledged to lift Japan from its economic malaise, revise its constitution, privatize government-owned businesses, modernize its political system, improve relations with its Asian neighbors, and eliminate factionalism from the LDP. Achieving those goals proved difficult, however, as reform was resisted by the entrenched bureaucracy and by LDP factions that would be affected by reform; and Koizumi's government soon came largely to resemble those of his predecessors. He did, however, make a landmark visit to North Korea in 2002, which led to the establishment of diplomatic relations. (from the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, copyright 2001-2005, Columbia University Press).
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