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TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -- Former Japanese prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, an outspoken politician who jousted with U.S. officials over the car trade and brought "big bang" financial reforms to Tokyo, died on Saturday at 68, Kyodo news agency said.
Hashimoto, who retired from politics last September citing poor health, had undergone surgery to remove a large part of his intestine after being rushed to hospital on June 4.
Hailed as a forceful leader who would tackle reform when he took over as premier in 1996, he ultimately faltered in the face of financial crisis, political scandal and economic stagnation.