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Thursday, April 6, 2000

Hosokawa gives Mori words of wisdom


Staff writer

Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa expects no changes in either domestic or foreign policy by newly installed Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, but does have some advice to offer -- particularly concerning health and time management.

"Politically and economically, Mori is from the same pool as other Liberal Democratic Party prime ministers," Hosokawa said in an interview with The Japan Times, indicating that he expects no dramatic change under his administration.

"The first thing Mori must do, though, is make his position on various issues clear. We don't know what his policies are," said Hosokawa, who served as prime minister from August 1993 to April 1994 as leader of an anti-LDP coalition.

Hosokawa said that the two toughest personal challenges Mori will face are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and developing an effective time-management system.

Keizo Obuchi, whose Cabinet resigned Tuesday after he had a stroke and fell into a coma Sunday, is believed to have suffered from fatigue caused by overwork during his 20 months in office.

"Ordinary people cannot comprehend the tremendous amount of stress, physical and mental, a prime minister goes through. During my tenure, it was impossible to exercise regularly," Hosokawa said. "Eating healthily is always a problem because a prime minister has to attend numerous functions and eat on the run. In my case, my wife made sure I had a healthy 'bento' (boxed meal)."

Just as important, Hosokawa added, was to have the ability to sift through tedious details and focus on the larger issues.

"When I was prime minister I had to attend a lot of boring meetings that were extremely detailed. An effective prime minister needs to be able to shut out the unimportant details and focus on the national and international issues. Some former prime ministers, like Obuchi and Noboru Takeshita, got heavily involved in the details, but that was not my style," Hosokawa said.



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