Ikeda, PRIME MINISTER 1960-4, altered the course of Japanese history from political confrontation towards consensus in pursuit of economic prosperity. He with SATŌ EISAKU, who succeeded him as Prime Minister, were the core of the 'YOSHIDA School' of elite ex-bureaucrat politicians.
Born in 1899 in Hiroshima, Ikeda pursued an elite path through Tokyo Imperial University into the MINISTRY OF FINANCE, whose Vice-Minister he became after the war. Entering Parliament in the 1949 general elections, representing Yoshida's Democratic Liberals, he was made Finance Minister-a rapid promotion that would have been impossible in later years. His tenure coincided with the Occupation-sponsored 'Dodge Line' of economic policies designed to squeeze inflation out of the system, and he applied these tough policies with zeal. In the early 1950s he played a major role in Japan-United States relations, most significantly in the Ikeda-Robertson talks in 1953 concerning the establishment of Japanese DEFENCE capacity [see also UNITED STATES, RELATIONS WITH]. During the 1950s he was Minister of International Trade and Industry (see MINISTRY OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INDUSTRY) and Director of the ECONOMIC PLANNING AGENCY under Yoshida, Finance Minister under ISHIBASHI, Finance Minister again under KISHI, as well as occupying various party positions. He had two setbacks: in 1952 he had to resign the MITI portfolio after making a speech in which he suggested that 'poor people should eat barley', and from 1954 when he and Satō were under investigation concerning a shipbuilding scandal but exonerated on the orders of the Justice Minister.
Following Kishi's resignation as Prime Minister in July 1960, Ikeda, now leader of a major LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (LDP) faction, succeeded him. During his four and a half years in the post, he developed policies markedly at variance with those of Kishi. Perceiving that the political temperature had risen too high, he de-emphasised confrontational issues and established a modus vivendi with the JAPAN SOCIALIST PARTY (JSP) under its moderate Chairman, KAWAKAMI JŌTARŌ. When the controversial Constitutional Research Commission reported in 1964, he in effect buried the report. On the positive side, he did all he could to promote economic growth and to have Japan accepted as an equal in international organisations (Japan joined the OECD in 1964 and attained IMF article 8 status) (see INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS AND JAPAN). His 'Income Doubling Plan' came under criticism, on inflationary and environmental grounds, but it essentially extrapolated the high growth rates of the economy from the late 1950s. In foreign policy, he strove to improve relations with China, but had to tread carefully given US official attitudes and pro-Taiwan opinion within the LDP [see also CHINA (PRC AND ROC), RELATIONS WITH]. He also attempted to mediate in the konfrontasi dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia, this being a rare example of such a positive FOREIGN POLICY initiative. He piloted the LDP to comfortable victory in the general elections of 1960 and