Former Justice Minister Dies; Helped Bring Down Prime Minister
TOKYO (AP) _ Osamu Inaba, who as justice minister helped bring down Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in the 1976 Lockheed scandal, died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital Saturday, his family said. He was 82.
During Inaba’s tenure as justice minister, he sought information from the United States about the payoff scandal and played an key role in arresting Tanaka.
Tanaka was subsequently convicted of having received about $2 million in bribes from the Lockheed Corp. in 1972 to promote the sale of its aircraft in Japan while he was in office.
Inaba came under fire within the governing Liberal Democratic Party for approving Tanaka’s arrest and later for criticizing Tanaka’s still-powerful faction within the party. But Inaba was praised by opposition political groups and the general public.
Neither Tanaka’s resignation as prime minister nor his conviction weakened his clout as one of Japan’s most powerful political godfathers until he suffered a stroke in February 1985.
Inaba was first elected to the lower house of parliament in 1949 and was re-elected 13 times until his retirement in December 1987. He lost only one election in between.
Most recently, he served as a member of the 13-member grand champion selection committee for Japan’s traditional sport of sumo wrestling. Wrestlers hoping to become grand champions, a rank which carries an aura of prestige unmatched in other sports in Japan, must be approved by the committee.