Yasukazu  Hamada
Japan

Yasukazu Hamada

Former Minister of Defence

Date of Birth: 21/10/1955

As the political head of a more outward-looking Japanese military, the Self-Defence Forces, Yasukazu Hamada took a robust line against pirates based in Somalia. In March 2009, he ordered two SDF destroyers to the Gulf of Aden, an unprecedented move under the restrictive terms of the post-Second World War constitution. Tokyo also planned to use its technical expertise more actively in United Nations peacekeeping, although many of the details were yet to be agreed.

Hamada is a high-profile and determined operator: after studying business at Senshu University, he became Secretary to Finance Minister Michio Watanabe. He was later Secretary to his father, Koichi Hamada, a former leader of the Yakuza (criminal underground) who became a long-serving and controversial Liberal Democratic Party politician.

Upon his father's retirement from the House of Representatives in 1993, Hamada was elected to the seat, in the Chiba constituency. Within the LDP, Hamada joined the party's Security Council in 1999, becoming its head in 2000. He was appointed to Taro Aso's cabinet in 2008.

Treading carefully ahead of 30 August 2009 elections, Hamada and most of Aso's cabinet refrained from a visit to Yasukuni Shrine, a monument to the country's war dead. Among the 2,466,00 souls enshrined there are several architects of Japan's Second World War effort, who have since been classified as war criminals. Past visits, even in a private capacity, have incensed China, the Koreas and Taiwan. With the LDP trailing in the polls to the Democratic Party of Japan, Aso and his team were taking no chances.

Hamada also provides vocals for the Parliamentarian band Gi!nz, a rock and roll act formed by four lawmakers. Their 2005 album, 'Agree to Disagree', raised funds for a bone marrow donor programme.