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The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Japan

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This page contains a list of the greatest Japanese Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,577 Politicians, 375 of which were born in Japan. This makes Japan the birth place of the 10th most number of Politicians behind Turkey and China.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Japanese Politicians of all time. This list of famous Japanese Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Japanese Politicians.

Photo of Hirohito

1. Hirohito (1901 - 1989)

With an HPI of 82.41, Hirohito is the most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 122 different languages on wikipedia.

Hirohito (29 April 1901 – 7 January 1989), posthumously honored as Emperor Shōwa, was the 124th emperor of Japan, reigning from 1926 until his death in 1989. His reign of over 62 years is the longest of any historical Japanese emperor and one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the world. Hirohito was born at Aoyama Palace in Tokyo to Crown Prince Yoshihito. He became Regent of Japan in 1921. After his father's death, he became the emperor. He was the head of state under the Meiji Constitution during Japan's imperial expansion, militarization, and involvement in World War II. Under Hirohito, Japan waged a war across Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. After Japan's surrender, despite Japan waging the war in the name of Hirohito, he was not prosecuted for war crimes, for General Douglas MacArthur thought that an ostensibly cooperative emperor would help establish a peaceful Allied occupation and would help the U.S. achieve its postwar objectives. On 1 January 1946, under pressure from the Allies, the Emperor formally renounced his divinity. Hirohito and his wife, Nagako, had two sons and five daughters; he was succeeded by his fifth child and eldest son, Akihito. By 1979, Hirohito was the only monarch in the world with the title "Emperor".

Photo of Emperor Meiji

2. Emperor Meiji (1852 - 1912)

With an HPI of 77.12, Emperor Meiji is the 2nd most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Mutsuhito (Japanese: 睦仁, 3 November 1852 – 30 July 1912), posthumously honored as Emperor Meiji (明治天皇, Meiji-tennō), was the 122nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Reigning from 1867 to his death, he was the first monarch of the Empire of Japan and presided over the Meiji era. His reign is associated with the Meiji Restoration, a series of rapid changes that witnessed Japan's transformation from an isolationist, feudal state to an industrialized world power. At the time of Emperor Meiji's birth in 1852, Japan was a feudal pre-industrial country dominated by the isolationist Tokugawa shogunate and the daimyō subject to it, who ruled over the country's 270 decentralized domains. By the time of his death, Japan had undergone an extensive political, economic, and social revolution and emerged as one of the great powers on the world stage. The New York Times summarized this transformation at the emperor's funeral in 1912: "the contrast between that which preceded the funeral car and that which followed it was striking indeed. Before it went old Japan; after it came new Japan."

Photo of Toyotomi Hideyoshi

3. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 - 1598)

With an HPI of 74.19, Toyotomi Hideyoshi is the 3rd most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 17 March 1537 – 18 September 1598), otherwise known as Kinoshita Tōkichirō (木下 藤吉郎) and Hashiba Hideyoshi (羽柴 秀吉), was a Japanese samurai and daimyō (feudal lord) of the late Sengoku period and regarded as the second "Great Unifier" of Japan.Hideyoshi rose from a peasant background as a retainer of the prominent lord Oda Nobunaga to become one of the most powerful men in Japanese history. Hideyoshi succeeded Nobunaga after the Honnō-ji Incident in 1582 and continued Nobunaga's campaign to unite Japan that led to the closing of the Sengoku period. Hideyoshi became the de facto leader of Japan and acquired the prestigious positions of Chancellor of the Realm and Imperial Regent by the mid-1580s. Hideyoshi launched the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592 to initial success, but eventual military stalemate damaged his prestige before his death in 1598. Hideyoshi's young son and successor Toyotomi Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 which would lead to the founding of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Hideyoshi's rule covers most of the Azuchi–Momoyama period of Japan, partially named after his castle, Momoyama Castle. Hideyoshi left an influential and lasting legacy in Japan, including Osaka Castle, the Tokugawa class system, the restriction on the possession of weapons to the samurai, and the construction and restoration of many temples, some of which are still visible in Kyoto.

Photo of Emperor Jimmu

4. Emperor Jimmu (-711 - -585)

With an HPI of 72.17, Emperor Jimmu is the 4th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.

Emperor Jimmu (神武天皇, Jinmu-tennō) was the legendary first emperor of Japan according to the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki. His ascension is traditionally dated as 660 BC. In Japanese mythology, he was a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, through her grandson Ninigi, as well as a descendant of the storm god Susanoo. He launched a military expedition from Hyūga near the Seto Inland Sea, captured Yamato, and established this as his center of power. In modern Japan, Emperor Jimmu's legendary accession is marked as National Foundation Day on February 11. There is no evidence to suggest that Jimmu existed.: 460  However, there is a high probability that there was a powerful dynasty in the vicinity of Miyazaki Prefecture during the Kofun period.: 592 

Photo of Hideki Tojo

5. Hideki Tojo (1884 - 1948)

With an HPI of 72.01, Hideki Tojo is the 5th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 71 different languages.

Hideki Tojo (東條 英機, Tōjō Hideki, pronounced [toːʑoː çideki] ; 30 December 1884 – 23 December 1948) was a Japanese politician, military leader and convicted war criminal who served as prime minister of Japan and president of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association from 1941 to 1944 during World War II. He assumed several more positions including chief of staff of the Imperial Army before ultimately being removed from power in July 1944. During his years in power, his leadership was marked by extreme state-perpetrated violence in the name of Japanese ultranationalism, much of which he was personally involved in. Tojo was born to a relatively low-ranking former samurai family in the Kōjimachi district of Tokyo. He began his career in the Army in 1902 and steadily rose through the ranks to become a general of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) by 1934. In March 1937, he was promoted to chief of staff of the Kwantung Army whereby he led military operations against the Chinese in Inner Mongolia and the Chahar-Suiyan provinces. By July 1940, he was appointed minister of war to the Japanese government led by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe. On the eve of World War II's expansion into Asia and the Pacific, Tojo was an outspoken advocate for a preemptive attack on the United States and its European allies. Upon being appointed prime minister on 17 October 1941, he oversaw the Empire of Japan's decision to go to war as well as its ensuing conquest of much of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. During the course of the war, Tojo presided over numerous war crimes, including the massacre and starvation of civilians and prisoners of war, as part of the wider Asian Holocaust. After the war's tide decisively turned against Japan, Tojo resigned as prime minister on 18 July 1944. Following his nation's surrender to the Allied powers in September 1945, he was arrested, convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in the Tokyo Trials, sentenced to death, and hanged on 23 December 1948. To this day, Tojo's complicity in the war crimes in the Pacific Theatre have firmly intertwined his legacy with the brutality shown by the Japanese Empire throughout World War II.

Photo of Sasaki Kojirō

6. Sasaki Kojirō (1583 - 1612)

With an HPI of 71.66, Sasaki Kojirō is the 6th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Sasaki Kojirō (佐々木 小次郎, also known as Ganryū Kojirō; c. 1575 – April 13, 1612) was a Japanese swordsman who may have lived during the Azuchi–Momoyama and early Edo periods and is known primarily for the story of his duel with Miyamoto Musashi in 1612, where Sasaki was killed. Although suffering from defeat as well as death at the hands of Musashi, he is a revered and respected warrior in Japanese history and culture. Later Miyamoto proclaimed that Sasaki Kojirō was the strongest opponent he faced in his life.

Photo of Lee Myung-bak

7. Lee Myung-bak (1941 - )

With an HPI of 69.86, Lee Myung-bak is the 7th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Lee Myung-bak (Korean: 이명박; ; Korean: [i.mjʌŋ.bak̚]; born 19 December 1941) often referred to by his initials MB, is a South Korean businessman and former politician who served as 10th (17th election) president of South Korea from 2008 to 2013. Before his presidency, he was the CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, and the mayor of Seoul from 2002 to 2006. He is married to Kim Yoon-ok and has three daughters and one son. His older brother, Lee Sang-deuk, is a South Korean politician. He is a Christian attending Somang Presbyterian Church. Lee is a graduate of Korea University and received an honorary degree from Paris Diderot University in 2011.Lee altered the South Korean government's approach to North Korea, preferring a more hardline strategy in the wake of increased provocation from the North, though he was supportive of regional dialogue with Russia, China and Japan. Under Lee, South Korea increased its visibility and influence in the global scene, resulting in the hosting of the 2010 G-20 Seoul summit. However, significant controversy remains in Korea regarding high-profile government initiatives which have caused some factions to engage in civil opposition and protest against the incumbent government and President Lee's Saenuri Party (formerly the Grand National Party). The reformist faction within the Saenuri Party was at odds with Lee. He ended his five-year term on 24 February 2013, and was succeeded by Park Geun-hye. On 22 March 2018, Lee was arrested on charges of bribery, embezzlement, and tax evasion alleged to have occurred during his presidency. Prosecutors accused Lee of receiving bribes totaling 11 billion won and channeling assets of 35 billion won to an illicit slush fund. Shortly before his arrest, Lee posted a handwritten statement on Facebook denying the charges. Lee's arrest occurred roughly a year after the arrest of former president Park Geun-Hye, who was arrested on charges stemming from the 2016 South Korean political scandal. Lee was convicted on 5 October 2018 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. On 29 October 2020, the Korean Supreme Court upheld a 17-year sentence against Lee given to him by an appellate court. On 27 December 2022, President Yoon Suk-yeol granted Lee a special pardon, cancelling the remaining 15 years of the sentence.

Photo of Himiko

8. Himiko (175 - 248)

With an HPI of 69.05, Himiko is the 8th most famous Japanese Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Himiko (卑弥呼, c. 170–247/248 AD), also known as Shingi Waō (親魏倭王, "Ruler of Wa, Friend of Wei"), was a shamaness-queen of Yamatai-koku in Wakoku (倭国). Early Chinese dynastic histories chronicle tributary relations between Queen Himiko and the Cao Wei Kingdom (220–265) and record that the Yayoi period people chose her as ruler following decades of warfare among the kings of Wa. Early Japanese histories do not mention Himiko, but historians associate her with legendary figures such as Empress Consort Jingū, who is said to have served as regent from 201 to 269.Scholarly debates over the identity of Himiko and the location of her domain, Yamatai, have raged since the late Edo period, with opinions divided between northern Kyūshū or traditional Yamato Province in present-day Kinki. The "Yamatai controversy", writes Keiji Imamura, is "the greatest debate over the ancient history of Japan." A prevailing view among scholars is that she may be buried at Hashihaka Kofun in Nara Prefecture.

Photo of Emperor Kōmei

9. Emperor Kōmei (1831 - 1867)

With an HPI of 69.02, Emperor Kōmei is the 9th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.

Osahito (統仁, 22 July 1831 – 30 January 1867), posthumously honored as Emperor Kōmei (孝明天皇, Kōmei-tennō), was the 121st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Kōmei's reign spanned the years from 1846 through 1867, corresponding to the final years of the Edo period.During his reign there was much internal turmoil as a result of Japan's first major contact with the United States, which occurred under Commodore Perry in 1853 and 1854, and the subsequent forced re-opening of Japan to western nations, ending a 220-year period of national seclusion. Emperor Kōmei did not care much for anything foreign, and he opposed opening Japan to Western powers. His reign would continue to be dominated by insurrection and partisan conflicts eventually culminating in the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate shortly after his death and the Meiji Restoration in the beginning of the reign of his son and successor Emperor Meiji.

Photo of Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi

10. Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi (1894 - 1972)

With an HPI of 68.52, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi is the 10th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.

Richard Nikolaus Eijiro, Count of Coudenhove-Kalergi (16 November 1894 – 27 July 1972), was a politician, philosopher, and count of Coudenhove-Kalergi. A pioneer of European integration, he served as the founding president of the Paneuropean Union for 49 years. His parents were Heinrich von Coudenhove-Kalergi, an Austro-Hungarian diplomat, and Mitsuko Aoyama, the daughter of an oil merchant, antiques-dealer and major landowner in Tokyo. His childhood name in Japan was Eijiro Aoyama. Being a native Austrian-Hungarian citizen, he became a Czechoslovak citizen in 1919 and then took French citizenship from 1939 until his death. His first book, Pan-Europa, was published in 1923 and contained a membership form for the Pan-Europa movement, which held its first Congress in 1926 in Vienna. In 1927, Aristide Briand was elected honorary president of the Pan-Europa movement. Public figures who attended Pan-Europa congresses included Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann and Sigmund Freud.Coudenhove-Kalergi was the first recipient of the Charlemagne Prize in 1950. The 1972–1973 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour. Coudenhove-Kalergi proposed Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as the music for the European Anthem. He also proposed a Europe Day, a European postage stamp, and many artifacts for the movement (e.g. badges and pennants).

Pantheon has 375 people classified as politicians born between 711 BC and 2003. Of these 375, 67 (17.87%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Lee Myung-bak, Yoshihide Suga, and Fumio Kishida. The most famous deceased politicians include Hirohito, Emperor Meiji, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. As of April 2022, 55 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Yoshihide Suga, Syukuro Manabe, and Fujiko Fujio.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2022)

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.