Lead: In the summer of 1993, Japan's prime minister appeared to be the herald of vast changes in Japanese life. Less than a year later his resignation under fire revealed how much a part he was of that which was traditional and old in Japan.

Content: Morihiro Hosokawa was the youngest prime minister since World War II and his cabinet the youngest on record. He brought women into the national political process as never before. Social Democrat Takako Doi (Tah-KAH-koe DOE-ee) served as speaker of the lower house and a record three women were appointed to cabinet posts. Hosokawa held regular new conferences, informally talking to the press corps in shirt sleeves. He promised not only political reform but a new, more open approach to international relations. The prime minister stunned Japan's wartime generation when he took office, by saying that World War II was a "war of aggression, and it was wrong." Despite a genuine pro-American bias he refused to bend to pressure and rejected a face-saving statement on trade when appearing with President Bill Clinton in Washington in the winter of 1994. At the time of the crisis leading to his resignation, he was the most popular Japanese prime minster ever.