The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Japan

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This page contains a list of the greatest Japanese Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,710 Politicians, 317 of which were born in Japan. This makes Japan the birth place of the 11th most number of Politicians behind China and Greece.

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 85.39, Hirohito is the most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 118 different languages on wikipedia.

Emperor Shōwa (昭和, 29 April 1901 – 7 January 1989), better known in English by his personal name Hirohito (裕仁), was the 124th emperor of Japan, ruling over the Empire of Japan from 1926 until 1947, after which he was Emperor of the state of Japan until his death in 1989. He was succeeded by his fifth child and eldest son, Akihito. Hirohito and his wife, Empress Kōjun, had seven children, two sons and five daughters. By 1979, Hirohito was the only monarch in the world with the title "emperor". Hirohito was the longest-lived and longest-reigning historical Japanese emperor and one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the world. At the start of his reign, Japan was already one of the great powers—the ninth largest economy in the world, the third-largest naval power, and one of the four permanent members of the council of the League of Nations. He was the head of state under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan during Japan's imperial expansion, militarization, and involvement in World War II. After Japan's surrender, he was not prosecuted for war crimes as many other leading government figures were. His degree of involvement in wartime decisions remains controversial. During the post-war period, he became the symbol of the state of Japan under the post-war constitution and Japan's recovery. By the end of his reign, Japan had emerged as the world's second-largest economy.In Japan, reigning emperors are known only as "the Emperor." He is now referred to primarily by his posthumous name, Shōwa, which is the name of the era coinciding with his reign.

Photo of Emperor Meiji

2. Emperor Meiji (1852 - 1912)

With an HPI of 82.77, Emperor Meiji is the 2nd most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.

Emperor Meiji, (明治天皇, Meiji-tennō, 3 November 1852 – 30 July 1912) also called Meiji the Great (明治大帝, Meiji-taitei) or Meiji the Good, (明治聖帝, Meiji-seitei) was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession. Reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death on 30 July 1912, and the first monarch of the Empire of Japan, he presided over the Meiji era, and instigated 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 in 1912, 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 with the words: "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."Since the modern era, when an emperor of Japan dies he is given a posthumous name. Such a name is a combination of the era during which he reigned and coincides with the emperor's contribution to the throne whilst he was alive. Therefore, while publicly known during his life merely as "The Emperor", he has been historically known as "Emperor Meiji" after his death. He obtained this current title in reference to the Meiji era, which spanned almost the entirety of his reign. His personal name (which is not used in any formal or official context, except for his signature) was Mutsuhito (睦仁).

Photo of Toyotomi Hideyoshi

3. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 - 1598)

With an HPI of 80.29, Toyotomi Hideyoshi is the 3rd most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 61 different languages.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 17 March 1537 – 18 September 1598) was a Japanese samurai and daimyo (feudal lord) of the late Sengoku period 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 Japan. 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 78.44, Emperor Jimmu is the 4th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 53 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 accession 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 Hyuga near the Seto Inland Sea, captured Yamato, and established this as his center of power. In modern Japan, Jimmu's legendary accession is marked as National Foundation Day on February 11. Historians have stressed that there is no evidence for the existence of Jimmu. Most scholars agree that the traditional narrative of Japan’s founding is mythical and Jimmu is a legendary figure. In the 1930s and 1940s it was dangerous to question the existence of Jimmu. However, some details about his conquest may reflect actual events.

Photo of Hideki Tojo

5. Hideki Tojo (1884 - 1948)

With an HPI of 77.94, Hideki Tojo is the 5th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 71 different languages.

Hideki Tōjō (December 30, 1884 – December 23, 1948) was a Japanese politician, general of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and war criminal who served as Prime Minister of Japan and President of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association for most of World War II. He assumed several more positions including Chief of Staff of the Imperial Army before ultimately being removed from office in July 1944. During his years in power, his leadership was marked by extreme state-perpetrated violence in the name of Japanese ultranationalism, in much of which he was personally involved.Hideki Tojo was born on December 30, 1884 to a relatively low-ranking samurai family in the Kōjimachi district of Tokyo. He began his career in the Army in 1905 and steadily rose through the ranks to become a general 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 the Second World War'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 October 17, 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. Over the course of the war, Tojo presided over numerous war crimes, including the massacre and starvation of civilians and prisoners of war. He was also involved in the sexual enslavement of thousands of mostly Korean women and girls for Japanese soldiers, which has consistently brought renewed strains to modern Japanese-Korean relations.After the war's tide decisively turned against Japan, Tojo was forced to resign as Prime Minister in 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 December 23, 1948. To this day, Tojo’s complicity in atrocities such as the Rape of Nanjing, the Bataan Death March, and human experimentation entailing the torture and death of thousands have firmly intertwined his legacy with the fanatical brutality shown by the Japanese Empire throughout World War II.

Photo of Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi

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

With an HPI of 77.06, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi is the 6th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Richard Nikolaus Eijiro, Count of Coudenhove-Kalergi (16 November 1894 – 27 July 1972) was an Austrian-Japanese 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 Aoyama Eijiro. He became a Czechoslovak citizen in 1919 and then took French nationality 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).

Photo of Lee Myung-bak

7. Lee Myung-bak (1941 - )

With an HPI of 76.48, Lee Myung-bak is the 7th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.

Lee Myung-bak (Korean: 이명박; Hanja: 李明博; ; Korean: [i.mjʌŋ.bak̚]; born 19 December 1941) is a former South Korean businessman and politician who served as 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 is at odds against 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.

Photo of Himiko

8. Himiko (175 - 248)

With an HPI of 76.14, Himiko is the 8th most famous Japanese Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Himiko (卑弥呼, c. 170–248 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 was regent (c. 200–269) in roughly the same era as Himiko. 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 burial in Nara Prefecture.

Photo of Takeda Shingen

9. Takeda Shingen (1521 - 1573)

With an HPI of 75.73, Takeda Shingen is the 9th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Takeda Shingen (武田 信玄, December 1, 1521 – May 13, 1573), of Kai Province, was a pre-eminent daimyō in feudal Japan. Known as the "Tiger of Kai", he was one of the most powerful daimyōs with exceptional military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku period. Shingen had been a 'Warlord' of great domestic skill and competent military leadership.

Photo of Emperor Kōmei

10. Emperor Kōmei (1831 - 1867)

With an HPI of 75.05, Emperor Kōmei is the 10th most famous Japanese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Emperor Kōmei (孝明天皇, Kōmei-tennō, 22 July 1831 – 30 January 1867) 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.

Pantheon has 317 people classified as politicians born between 711 BC and 1995. Of these 317, 43 (13.56%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Lee Myung-bak, Shinzō Abe, and Tarō Asō. The most famous deceased politicians include Hirohito, Emperor Meiji, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. As of October 2020, 10 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Keisai Eisen, Matsudaira Katamori, and Saigō Jūdō.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2020)

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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.