From left Sato (then Minister of Construction), Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and Party chairman Saeki Ozawa (1953)
Satō negotiated with U.S. president Richard M. Nixon for the repatriation of Okinawa.
Satō and his wife with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos
He studied German law at Tokyo Imperial University. In 1923, he passed the senior civil service examinations, and in the following year, upon graduation, became a civil servant in the Ministry of Railways.
He served as Director of the Osaka Railways Bureau from 1944 to 1946 and Vice-Minister for Transportation from 1947 to 1948.
Satō entered the Diet in 1949 as a member of the Liberal Party.
He served as minister of postal services and telecommunications from July 1951 to July 1952. Sato gradually rose through the ranks of Japanese politics, becoming chief cabinet secretary to then prime minister Shigeru Yoshida from January 1953 to July 1954. He later served as minister of construction from October 1952 to February 1953.
After the Liberal Party merged with the Japan Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party, Satō served as chairman of the party executive council from December 1957 to June 1958. Satō became minister of finance in the cabinets of Nobusuke Kishi (his brother) and Hayato Ikeda.
From July 1961 to July 1962, Satō was minister of international trade and industry. From July 1963 to June 1964 he was concurrently head of the Hokkaidō Development Agency and of the Science and Technology Agency, and was also state minister in charge of organizing the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo.
While at a restaurant on 19 May 1975, Satō suffered a massive stroke, resulting in a coma. He died at 12:55 a.m. on 3 June at the Jikei University Medical Center, aged 74. After a public funeral, his ashes were buried in the family cemetery at Tabuse.
Sato bitterly opposed the entry of the PRC into the United Nations in 1971.
Satō introduced the Three Non-Nuclear Principles on 11 December 1967, which means non-production, non-possession, and non-introduction of nuclear weapons. He later suggested the "Four-Pillars Nuclear Policy".
He was largely supportive of the South Vietnamese government during throughout the Vietnam War.
Satō married Hiroko Matsuoka (5 January 1907 - 16 April 1987) the niece of diplomat Yōsuke Matsuoka, in 1926 and had two sons, Ryūtarō and Shinji.
In a 1969 Shukan Asahi interview with novelist Shūsaku Endō, his wife accused him of being a rake and a wife-beater.