He was first elected to the National Diet in November 1963 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He was appointed as parliamentary vice-minister of posts and telecommunications in 1970 and remained involved information and communications affairs until he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1997 and Prime Minister on 30 July 1998.
He died of a stroke, whilst still in office on 14 May 2000 and was succeeded by the spectacularly unpopular Yoshirō Mori.
The press release of his apology read:
|“||Looking back on the relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea during this century, Prime Minister Obuchi regarded in a spirit of humility the fact of history that Japan caused, during a certain period in the past, tremendous damage and suffering to the people of the Republic of Korea through its colonial rule, and expressed his deep remorse and heartfelt apology for this fact. President Kim accepted with sincerity this statement of Prime Minister Obuchi's recognition of history and expressed his appreciation for it. He also expressed his view that the present calls upon both countries to overcome their unfortunate history and to build a future-oriented relationship based on reconciliation as well as good-neighbourly and friendly cooperation||”|