A third-generation LDP man, Junichiro Koizumi is a career politician who rose to power through 30 years of key positions in the party and the House of Representatives. Elected as a Member of the House of Representatives in 1972, he subsequently assumed increasingly important governmental positions, serving as parliamentary vice minister of finance (1979), chairman of the Committee on Finance (1986), minister of health and welfare (1988, Takeshita cabinet), minister of health and welfare (1989, Uno cabinet), minister of posts and telecommunications (1992, Miyazawa cabinet), and again minister of health and welfare (1996, 1997, Hashimoto cabinet).
His LDP positions have followed a similar path of rising importance: chairman of the Finance Committee, LDP (1980); deputy secretary general (1983); chief deputy chairman, Diet Affairs Committee (1987); chairman, National Organization Committee (1989); chairman, Research Commission on Fundamental Policies for Medical Care (1989); and chief deputy secretary general (1991), a position which made him one of the most powerful politicians in the country. His rise culminated in his election as president and prime minister (2001). Since new LDP voting rules gave local party members a larger role in electing the
party president, Koizumi was able to defeat the favorite of party stalwarts, former prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, in whose cabinet Koizumi was minister of health and welfare.