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Muneo Suzuki is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, and currently (March 2002) the most infamous politician in the Japanese government.

Suzuki was born in the remote town of Ashoro in Hokkaido (the municipality with the largest area in Japan) in 1948. As a post-war child living in a rural area, he grew up in a place without electricity or paved road. The conditions under which he spent his childhood made him realize the important role that government and politics played in the lives of citizens, and convinced him that his fate was to become a politician and better the lives of people all across Japan.

True to his word, he worked for the Japanese government at the first chance that he got. He worked as a private secretary while still studying in the Faculty of Politics and Economics at Takushoku University in Tokyo. His first real job, however was as the private secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries in 1977. From there, he moved his way up through the bureacracy. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1983 in the Hokkaido block. He has since been re-elected there five times. He has taken his place among the seniority of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and has become well known to the Japanese public as a noisy, conservative politician.

He has been in many headlines in the news recently for being the man behind the curtain in Japanese politics. Allegations that he may be influencing the bureacracy first arose during the summit on Afghanistan which took place in Japan in the winter of 2002. His name was brought up by an NGO called Peace Winds that had been denied admittance to the summit. A Peace Winds representatives had made comments criticizing the government in a statement that was published in the Asahi Shimbun and they claimed that they were denied the right to participate in the summit because of this by Suzuki. Makiko Tanaka, Foreign Minister at the time, said she had no knowledge of the denial, and subsequently allowed the NGO to take part in the summit. Later, during debates in the House of Representatives, Tanaka stated that the head bureacrat of the Foreign Ministry, Nogami Yoshiji, had told her that Suzuki was responsible for the denial. Tanaka had already been facing fierce criticism for incompetence at her post, and she and Nogami were soon fired by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

What was anticipated to be a quick solution by Koizumi soon triggered a flood of suspicions that indicated Suzuki was influencing bureacratic initiatives in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Traffic Ministry, and other areas of the bureaucracy. Allegations that he punished municipalities that did not elect LDP candidates, meddled in foreign affairs with African countries, and influenced bidding for government projects are being investigated. Already, calls for his resignation are being heard from within his own party. In the current push for Kouzou Kaikaku, or structural reform, by the Prime Minister, Suzuki's future does not appear bright.


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