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Ashida Hitoshi

(1887-1959). Politician; prime minister in 1948. Born in Kyoto Prefecture, Ashida graduated from Tokyo University in 1912. In 1932 he resigned from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in protest over the Manchurian Incident. As head of the Japan Times from 1933 to 1940, he spoke out against military involvement in political affairs. In October 1945 Ashida joined the first postwar cabinet as minister of health and welfare. In March 1947 he organized his own party, the Minshutō (Democractic Party). In June he became foreign minister and the next year he formed a coalition cabinet and became prime minister. As prime minister he denied government employees the right to strike. Implicated in the Shōwa Denkō scandal, he was forced to resign in October 1948. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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