Born in 1936 in Tokyo, Yamahana was the son of a leading JAPAN SOCIALIST PARTY (JSP) parliamentarian, Yamahana Hideo, who in the debates over revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty in 1960 did much to embarrass the Kishi Government with his persistent and acute questioning (see SECURITY TREATY REVISION CRISIS).
Trained as a lawyer, and advising labour unions on legal matters, Yamahana was first elected to the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES for the JSP in 1976 representing an outer Tokyo constituency. He became Secretary-General of the party in 1991, and Chairman in December 1992. This proved to be a crucial time to lead the party, since he could play a major role in the construction of the HOSOKAWA coalition Cabinet from August 1993. The JSP was essential to the coalition, and Yamahana bargained skilfully to bring the party on board. In the July general elections, however, the party had lost nearly half of its seats in favour of new parties led by OZAWA, Hosokawa and Takemura. Thus, at the JSP national congress in September he had to take responsibility for the defeat by resigning his chairmanship in favour of MURAYAMA TOMIICHI. He remained, however, Minister in charge of political reform, and played a crucial role in reforming the electoral system.
With the formation of the LDP/JSP/NPH coalition Government in June 1994, Yamahana found himself in a coalition he did not really approve of, and a Government led by Murayama. Whereas Yamahana was on the right wing of the JSP, Murayama was on its traditional left wing, so that ideological differences were added to personal rivalry. In January 1995, Yamahana was about to lead much of the JSP right wing out of the party, but this was aborted by the Kōbe earthquake on 17 January (see GREAT HANSHIN-AWAJI EARTHQUAKE). It was not until September 1996, in advance of the October general elections, that the right wing defected, helping found the DEMOCRATIC PARTY, and reducing the JSP to minor party status. Yamahana joined the Democratic Party, but did not lead it.
Born in 1936 in Fukuoka, Yamasaki Taku was one of the YKK group (including also KATŌ KŌICHI and KOIZUMI JUNICHIRŌ), regarded as the up-and-coming new leaders in the 1990s.
He graduated from Waseda University, was briefly in local politics and was first elected to the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES for a Fukuoka constituency in 1972. Up to and including the elections of 2000, he had never been defeated. Initially a member of the Young Storm Association (Seirankai) of right-wing activists founded in 1973, he was later a mainstream (NAKASONE faction) conservative rather than a member of the extreme right.
Over time he occupied a number of prominent positions in the LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (LDP), including those of Deputy Secretary-General, Parliamentary Policy Committee Chairman and Policy Affairs Research Committee Chairman. He also held a number of