Mutsuko Miki, activist, wife of former prime minister, dies at 95

August 04, 2012


Mutsuko Miki, wife of 1970s Prime Minister Takeo Miki and an activist supporting the compensation of women victimized by war and protection of the pacifist Constitution, died of colon tumors at a Tokyo hospital on July 31, sources said Aug. 3.

She was 95.

Miki married Takeo in 1940, and was by his side when he served as prime minister between 1974-76. After her husband's death in 1988, Miki became an activist supporting compensation for those who served as "comfort women" during World War II. She also took part in a movement to protect the pacifist Constitution.

In 2004, Miki formed the “Article 9 Association,” whose goal was to protect the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, with other people, including Kenzaburo Oe, author and 1994 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

She also served as the chairwoman of the Asian Ladies Friendship Society and other organizations.

“She acted devotedly for the country,” said former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, upon hearing of Miki's death.

Murayama, 88, went to North Korea with Miki in 2000. She had made teacups with her own hands as “souvenirs” for the North Korean people. She made the teacups from soil in Japan, North Korea and South Korea.

Murayama said he will never forget the teacups and their special message.

“She wanted to convey harmonious relations among the three countries (through the teacups),” he said.

When Murayama was serving as prime minister in 1995, his administration set up the Asian Women’s Fund to pay compensation to former “comfort women,” who had been forced to provide sex to Imperial Japanese Army soldiers during the Pacific War. Miki had been instrumental in calling for the establishment of the fund.

Nonfiction writer Hisae Sawachi, 81, helped establish the Article 9 Association with Miki and others.

“It is an extremely normal thing to express opinions for peace,” Sawachi said Miki often proclaimed.

The last time Sawachi met Miki was in May 2011, when they took part in a meeting of the Article 9 Association. At that time, while saying, “I’m already old,” Miki was still fashionable, wearing high heels, she said.

Philosopher Takeshi Umehara, 87, was also one of the people who called for the establishment of the Article 9 Association.

“She was not pushy, but reserved," Umehara recalls of Miki. "Thanks to her existence, we were able to appeal to the people to protect the pacifist Constitution.”

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Mutsuko Miki (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Mutsuko Miki (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Mutsuko Miki (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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