TOKYO -- Former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki died yesterday at Tokyo's International Medical Center of Japan. He was 93.
The Kyodo News agency, citing family members, said he died of pneumonia.
Mr. Suzuki was appointed prime minister in July 1980 after the unexpected death of his predecessor, Masayoshi Ohira.
A member of Japan's long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Mr. Suzuki took over during a period marked by instability as Cabinets frequently changed and factional politics splintered parties.
His strong mediating skills had helped him chair the party's executive council 10 times and win support early in his term.
In foreign policy, Mr. Suzuki helped define the close post-World War II relationship between Japan and the United States as an ''alliance" after a summit with former President Reagan in 1981.
However, he was also known for his blunders, including his handling of allegations -- immediately before a scheduled trip to Beijing in 1982 -- that education officials were trying to gloss over Japan's wartime aggression in China in its official textbooks.
Amid the escalating textbook scandal and deteriorating relations with Washington, Mr. Suzuki resigned in 1982. He was succeeded by Yasuhiro Nakasone.