Godmother of powerful Japanese political clan dies at 90

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2013, 3:01am

The so-called "Godmother" of a powerful political and business family in Japan has died at the age of 90, it was announced on Tuesday.

Yasuko Hatoyama, the daughter of the founder of tyremaker Bridgestone, married into the Hatoyamas, a powerful political family sometimes dubbed "Japan's Kennedys".

Her son Yukio Hatoyama was Japanese prime minister between 2009 and 2010.

Born Yasuko Ishibashi, she was 21 when she married former foreign minister Iichiro Hatoyama, whose father became prime minister shortly after the second world war.

Her two sons both became parliamentarians, with the older, Yukio, becoming prime minister. He stepped down after less than nine months amid complaints about his dithering and weak leadership style.

Yasuko Hatoyama was for a long time seen as the real power in the family, which led to her being dubbed the "Godmother".

She was a controversial figure in Japanese politics, allegedly gifting hundreds of millions of yen to her sons in Bridgestone shares and in cash. This was investigated as a possible illegal political donation, but no charges were ever brought.


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