Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto is under intense pressure to resign, following his party's blistering defeat in the country's parliamentary elections.
Hashimoto has accepted responsibility for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's humiliating performance, but he says he won't make any announcement about his future until he meets his executive on Monday.
APTV takes a look at Hashimoto's life and political career ahead of his anticipated political demise.
Ryutaro Hashimoto started his political career at a tender age, here seen campaigning for a place in Japan's parliament, known as the Diet, when he was just 26.
Elected to the Lower House in 1963, soon after the death of his politician father, Hashimoto was then the youngest lawmaker.
Born in 1937 in the Okayama prefecture, Hashimoto professed an early interest in politics, later graduating with a law degree from Keio University.
Hashimoto followed in the footsteps of his father, Ryugo, who was also a lawmaker for the Liberal Democratic Party, or L-D-P, and served as Minister of Health and Welfare until his death.
Hashimoto, who cut his teeth on welfare policy during his early years, eventually held the same ministerial position as his father.
Rising quickly through the L-D-P party ranks, Hashimoto was elected party president in 1995.
The party swept into power a year later.
At age 58, Hashimoto had suddenly become one of the youngest -- and most popular -- Japanese leaders ever.
With a background as a Trade and Industry Minister, Hashimoto took on trade issues with western trading powers like the U-S.
Hashimoto also took the opportunity to display his proficiency in the Japanese martial art of Kendo.
Hashimoto enjoyed a period of heady popularity, that led to the installation of this photo booth at the Liberal Democratic Party's Tokyo headquarters.
At the touch of a button anyone could have their photo taken with the Prime Minister.
Hashimoto was particularly popular with Japan's youth, and was seen to bring a breath of new life to the political arena.
He also made waves with his 1998 letter to the British public, asking them to accept his apology for Japan's actions during World War II.
The letter was published in the popular tabloid The Sun after a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Tokyo.
Hashimoto was also known for taking tough stands on trade relations and security issues with the U-S, but maintained a cordial relationship with U-S President Bill Clinton.
The diminutive Japanese premier also formed close ties with his towering Russian counterpart.
Yeltsin recently said he counts Hashimoto as one of his best friends, a relationship that has helped ease past tensions over the southern Kurile islands, which both countries claim.
But where he smoothed over foreign policy issues, Hashimoto stumbled when the Asian currency and markets crisis swept through Asia.
The U-S government in June stepped in to rescue the Japanese Yen after it plunged to its lowest point in eight years.
The move gave Asian markets a major boost, and appeared to stop the crisis from enveloping China and Russia.
But it left Hashimoto open to criticism that he couldn't alone steer the country through the murky waters of the financial crisis.
At the 11th hour, his government launched a move to take over failed banks.
A stimulus package was prepared to help the country's economy recover -- but Hashimoto delayed it from being implemented until after the polls.
The disastrous election results have left Japan's prime minister virtually no option other than to resign.