Shintaro Ishihara in 2009
|Member of the House of Representatives|
|Constituency||Tokyo PR block|
|Constituency||Tokyo 2nd district|
|Governor of Tokyo|
23 April 1999 - 31 October 2012
|Member of the House of Councillors|
|Born||30 September 1932|
Suma-ku, Kobe, Japan
|Political party||Liberal Democratic (1968-1995)|
Japan Restoration (2012-2014)
Future Generations (2014)
|Alma mater||Hitotsubashi University|
Shintaro Ishihara ( Ishihara Shintar?, born 30 September 1932) is a Japanese politician and author who was Governor of Tokyo from 1999 to 2012. Being the former leader of right-leaning Japan Restoration Party, Ishihara is one of the most prominent conservative right-wing politicians in modern Japanese politics.
His arts career included a prize-winning novel, best-sellers and work also in theater, film and journalism. His 1989 book, The Japan That Can Say No, co-authored with Sony chairman Akio Morita (1991 in English), called on the authors' countrymen to stand up to the United States.
After an early career as a writer and film director, he served in the House of Councillors from 1968 to 1972, in the House of Representatives from 1972 to 1995, and as Governor of Tokyo from 1999 to 2012. He resigned from the governorship to briefly co-lead the Sunrise Party, then joined the Japan Restoration Party and returned to the House of Representatives in the 2012 general election. He unsuccessfully sought re-election in the general election of November 2014, and officially left politics the following month.
Shintaro Ishihara was born in Suma-ku, Kobe. His father Kiyoshi was an employee, later a general manager, of a shipping company. Shintaro grew up in Zushi, Kanagawa. In 1952, he entered Hitotsubashi University, and he graduated in 1956. Just two months before graduation, Ishihara won the Akutagawa Prize (Japan's most prestigious literary prize) for the novel Season of the Sun. His brother Yujiro played a supporting role in the movie adaptation of the novel (for which Shintaro wrote the screenplay), and the two soon became the center of a youth-oriented cult. Ishihara had dabbled in directing a couple of films starring his brother. Regarding these early years as a filmmaker, he stated to a Playboy interviewer in 1990 that "If I had remained a movie director, I can assure you that I would have at least become a better one than Akira Kurosawa".
In the early 1960s, he concentrated on writing, including plays, novels, and a musical version of Treasure Island. One of his later novels, Lost Country (1982), speculated about Japan under the control of the Soviet Union. He also ran a theatre company, and found time to visit the North Pole, race his yacht The Contessa and cross South America on a motorcycle. He wrote a memoir of his journey, Nanbei Odan Ichiman Kiro.
From 1966 to 1967, he covered the Vietnam War at the request of Yomiuri Shimbun, and the experience influenced his decision to enter politics. He also was mentored by the influential author and political "fixer" Tsûsai Sugawara.
In 1968, Ishihara ran as a candidate on the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) national slate for the House of Councillors. He placed first on the LDP list with an unprecedented 3 million votes. After four years in the upper house, Ishihara ran for the House of Representatives representing the second district of Tokyo, and again won election.
Ishihara returned to the House of Representatives afterward, and worked his way up the party's internal ladder, serving as Director-General of the Environment Agency under Takeo Fukuda (1976) and Minister of Transport under Noboru Takeshita (1989). During the 1980s, Ishihara was a highly visible and popular LDP figure, but unable to win enough internal support to form a true faction and move up the national political ladder. In 1983 his campaign manager put up stickers throughout Tokyo stating that Ishihara's political opponent was an immigrant from North Korea. Ishihara denied that this was discrimination, saying that the public had a right to know.
In 1989, shortly after losing a highly contested race for the party presidency, Ishihara came to the attention of the West through his book The Japan That Can Say No, co-authored with Sony chairman Akio Morita. The book called on his fellow countrymen to stand up to the United States.
According to politician K?ichi Hamada, Ishihara gave financial and political support to Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult that was involved in several murders and assassination attempts during the early 1990s. Immediately after the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, Ishihara dropped out of national politics, suddenly ending a 25-year career in the Diet.
In the 1999 Tokyo gubernatorial election, he ran on an independent platform and was elected as Governor of Tokyo. Among Ishihara's moves as governor, he:
He won re-election in 2003 with 70.2% of the vote, and re-election in 2007 with 50.52% of the vote. In the 2011 gubernatorial election, his share of the vote dipped to 43.4% against challenges by comedian Hideo Higashikokubaru and entrepreneur Miki Watanabe.
On October 25, 2012, Ishihara announced he would resign as Governor of Tokyo in order to form a new political party in preparation for upcoming national elections. Following his announcement, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly approved his resignation on October 31, 2012, officially ending his tenure as Governor of Tokyo for 4,941 days, the second-longest term after Shunichi Suzuki. His deputy Naoki Inose assumed the role of acting governor, and won the subsequent gubernatorial election of 2012.
Ishihara's new national party was expected to be formed with members of the right-wing Sunrise Party of Japan, which he had helped to set up in 2010. When announced by co-leaders Ishihara and SPJ chief Takeo Hiranuma on November 13, 2012, Sunrise Party incorporated all five members of SPJ. SP would look to form a coalition with other small parties including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's Japan Restoration Party (Nippon Ishin no Kai).
In November 2012, Ishihara and his co-leader Hiranuma said that the Sunrise Party would pursue "establishment of an independent Constitution, beefing up of Japan's defense capabilities, and fundamental reform of fiscal management and tax systems to make them more transparent". The future of nuclear power and the upcoming consumption tax hike were issues it would have to address with potential coalition partners.
Only four days after the Sunrise Party was launched, on November 17, 2012 Ishihara and T?ru Hashimoto, leader of the Japan Restoration Party (JRP), decided to merge their parties, with Ishihara becoming the head of the JRP. Your Party would not join the party, nor would Genzei Nippon, as the latter party's anti-consumption tax increase policy did not match the JRP's pro-consumption tax policy.
Reporting on a poll in early December 2012, Asahi Shimbun characterized the merger with Japan Restoration Party as the latter having "swallowed up" Sunrise. The poll, in advance of the December 16 Lower House elections, also said the association with SP could hurt JRP's chances of forming a ruling coalition even though JRP was showing strength relative to the ruling DPJ.
Ishihara is generally described as one of Japan's most prominent "far right" politicians. He was called "Japan's Le Pen" on a program broadcast on Australia's ABC. He is affiliated with the openly right-wing organization Nippon Kaigi.
Ishihara is a long term friend of the prominent Aquino family in the Philippines. He is credited as being the first person to inform future President Corazon Aquino about the assassination of her husband Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. on August 21, 1983.
Ishihara has often been critical of Japan's foreign policy as being non-assertive. Regarding Japan's relationship with the US, he stated that "The country I dislike most in terms of US-Japan ties is Japan, because it's a country that can't assert itself." As part of the criticism, Ishihara published a book co-authored with then-Prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, titled "No" to ieru Ajia - tai Oubei e no h?saku in 1994.
Ishihara is deeply interested in the North Korean abduction issue, and called for economic sanctions against North Korea. Following Ishihara's campaign to bid Tokyo for the 2016 Summer Olympics, he eased his criticism of the Chinese government. He accepted an invitation to attend the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and was selected as a torch-bearer for the Japan leg of the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay.
On April 9, 2000, in a speech before a Self-Defense Forces group, Ishihara publicly stated that atrocious crimes have been committed repeatedly by illegally entered sangokujin (Japanese: (third country national); a term commonly viewed as derogatory) and foreigners, and speculated that in the event a natural disaster struck the Tokyo area, they would be likely to cause civil disorder. His comment invoked calls for his resignation, demands for an apology and fears among residents of Korean descent in Japan. Regarding this statement, Ishihara later said:
I referred to the "many sangokujin who entered Japan illegally." I thought some people would not know that word so I paraphrased it and used gaikokujin, or foreigners. But it was a newspaper holiday so the news agencies consciously picked up the sangokujin part, causing the problem.
... After World War II, when Japan lost, the Chinese of Taiwanese origin and people from the Korean Peninsula persecuted, robbed and sometimes beat up Japanese. It's at that time the word was used, so it was not derogatory. Rather we were afraid of them.
... There's no need for an apology. I was surprised that there was a big reaction to my speech. In order not to cause any misunderstanding, I decided I will no longer use that word. It is regrettable that the word was interpreted in the way it was.
Much of the criticism of this statement involved the historical significance of the term: sangokujin historically referred to ethnic Chinese and Koreans, working in Japan, several thousand of whom were killed by mobs of Japanese people following the Great Kant? earthquake of 1923.
On February 20, 2006, Ishihara also said: "Roppongi is now virtually a foreign neighborhood. Africans--I don't mean African-Americans--who don't speak English are there doing who knows what. This is leading to new forms of crime such as car theft. We should be letting in people who are intelligent.
On April 17, 2010, Ishihara said "many veteran lawmakers in the ruling-coalition parties are naturalized or the offspring of people naturalized in Japan".
In 1990, Ishihara said in a Playboy interview that the Rape of Nanking was a fiction, claiming, "People say that the Japanese made a holocaust but that is not true. It is a story made up by the Chinese. It has tarnished the image of Japan, but it is a lie." He continued to defend this statement in the uproar that ensued. He has also backed the film The Truth about Nanjing, which argues that the Nanking Massacre was propaganda.
In 2000, Ishihara, one of the eight judges for a literary prize, commented that homosexuality is abnormal, which caused an outrage in the gay community in Japan.
In a 2001 interview with women's magazine Shukan Josei, Ishihara said that he believed "old women who live after they have lost their reproductive function are useless and are committing a sin," adding that he "couldn't say this as a politician." He was criticized in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly for these comments, but responded that the criticism was driven by "tyrant... old women."
During an inauguration of a university building in 2004, Ishihara stated that French is unqualified as an international language because it is "a language in which nobody can count", referring to the counting system in French, which is based on units of twenty for numbers from 70 to 99 rather than ten (as is the case in Japanese and English). The statement led to a lawsuit from several language schools in 2005. Ishihara subsequently responded to comments that he did not disrespect French culture by professing his love of French literature on Japanese TV news.
At a Tokyo IOC press briefing in 2009, Governor Ishihara dismissed a letter sent by environmentalist Paul Coleman regarding the contradiction of his promoting the Tokyo Olympic 2016 bid as 'the greenest ever' while destroying the forested mountain of Minamiyama, the closest 'Satoyama' to the centre of Tokyo, by angrily stating Coleman was 'Just a foreigner, it does not matter'. Then, on continued questioning by investigative journalist Hajime Yokata, he stated 'Minamiyama is a Devil's Mountain that eats children.' Then he went on to explain how unmanaged forests 'eat children' and implied that Yokota, a Japanese national, was betraying his nation by saying 'What nationality are you anyway?' This was recorded on film and turned into a video that was sent around the world as the Save Minamiyama Movement
This greed bounds with populism. These things need to be washed away with the Tsunami. For many years the heart of Japanese always bounded with devil.
Japanese's identity is greed. We should avail of this tsunami to wash away this greed. I think this is a divine punishment.-- Ishihara Shintaro
However, he also commented that the victims of this disaster were pitiable.
This speech quickly caused many controversies and critical responses from the public opinion, both inside and outside Japan. The governor of Miyagi expressed displeasure about Ishihara's speech, claimed that Ishihara should have considered about the victims of the disaster. Ishihara then had to apologize about his comments.
During the 2012 Summer Olympics, Ishihara stated that "Westerners practicing judo resembles beasts fighting. Internationalized judo has lost its appeal." He added, "In Brazil they put chocolate in norimaki, but I wouldn't call it sushi. Judo has gone the same way."
Ishihara has said that Japan ought to have nuclear weapons.
On April 15, 2012, Ishihara made a speech in Washington, USA, publicly stating his desire for Tokyo to purchase the Senkaku Islands, called the Diaoyu Islands by mainland China, on behalf of Japan in an attempt to end the territorial dispute between China and Japan, causing uproars in Chinese society and increasing tension between the governments of China and Japan.
Ishihara is married to Noriko Ishihara and has four sons. Members of the House of Representatives Nobuteru Ishihara and Hirotaka Ishihara are his eldest and third sons; actor and weatherman Yoshizumi Ishihara is his second son. His youngest son, Nobuhiro Ishihara, is a painter. The late actor Yujiro Ishihara was his younger brother.
Their vagueness reminds me of the title of a book that the conservative politician (and Nippon Kaigi officer) Shintaro Ishihara published in English in 1991...
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| Director General of the Environment Agency
| Minister for Transport
| Governor of Tokyo
| Oldest member of the House of Representatives of Japan