|Toshiki Kaifu. (Photo by= Kyodo)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] TOKYO - Toshiki Kaifu, who was Japan's prime minister for about two years from 1989, died earlier this month, the government said Friday. He was 91. Kaifu, known for sending the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Persian Gulf in 1991, died Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said. The cause of his death was not immediately known, Kyodo reported.
"He dedicated himself to tackling many policy challenges amid a turbulent international situation, including the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War," Matsuno said in offering condolences. After starting his political career as a lawmaker secretary, the Nagoya-native was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1960 and served in key government posts including deputy chief Cabinet secretary and education minister before becoming prime minister in August 1989.
He made the key decision to send the SDF to the Persian Gulf following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait after Japan was criticized for not making any contribution toward resolving the 1990 Gulf crisis, other than the $13 billion it gave to coalition forces led by the United States. Recently declassified diplomatic records showed former U.S. President George H.W. Bush directly urged Kaifu to provide logistical support to the U.S. military via the SDF in the wake of the crisis, despite restraints imposed by Japan's pacifist Constitution.