|Intro||Japanese politician and author|
|A.K.A.||Ishihara Shintarō, Shintaro Ishihara, Ishihara Shintaro|
|Occupations||Writer Politician Explorer Actor Novelist Journalist Screenwriter Playwright Film director Lyricist Critic|
|Type||Film, Television, Stage and Radio Journalism Literature Music Politics|
|Birth||30 September 1932, Suma-ku, Kōbe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Kansai region|
|Politics||Japan Restoration Party, Liberal Democratic Party|
Shintaro Ishihara (石原 慎太郎, Ishihara Shintarō, 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 politician 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 in the arts, he served for more than 25 years in Parliament, leaving after the Tokyo subway attack in 1995. He subsequently served as Governor of Tokyo from April 1999 to October 2012, resigning to briefly co-lead the Sunrise Party, and then the Japan Restoration Party. He was elected to the Japanese lower house in the 2012 general election and unsuccessfully sought re-election in November 2014; he officially left politics the following month.
Early life and artistic career
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. The experience influenced his decision to enter politics.
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.
In 1973, he joined with thirty other LDP lawmakers in the anti-communist Seirankai or "Blue Storm Group"; the group gained notoriety for sealing a pledge of unity in their own blood.
Ishihara ran for Governor of Tokyo in 1975 but lost to the popular Socialist incumbent Ryokichi Minobe. Minobe was 71 at the time, and Ishihara criticized him as being "too old".
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 Kōichi 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 1999, he ran on an independent platform and was elected as Governor of Tokyo.
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.
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.
Sunrise Party merger with the Japan Restoration Party
Only four days after the Sunrise Party was launched, on November 17, 2012 Ishihara and Tōru 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.
Party for Future Generations
In the December 2014 general elections he was a candidate for the Party for Future Generations, but was defeated. Following this, he retired from politics.
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.
Ishihara is affiliated with the openly revisionist organization Nippon Kaigi.
Policies as governor
Among Ishihara's moves as governor, he:
- Cut metropolitan spending projects, including plans for a new Toei Subway line, and proposed the sale or leasing out of many metropolitan facilities.
- Imposed a new tax on banks' gross profits (rather than net profits).
- Imposed a new hotel tax based on occupancy.
- Imposed restrictions on the operation of diesel-powered vehicles, following a highly publicized event where he held up a bottle of diesel soot before cameras and reporters.
- Imposed cap and trade energy tax.
- Proposed opening casinos in the Odaiba district.
- Declared in 2005 that Tokyo would bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, which discouraged a bid by Fukuoka. Tokyo's bid lost to that of Rio de Janeiro.
- Set up the ShinGinko Tokyo bank to lend to SMEs (small medium enterprises) in Tokyo. This bank has lost approximately 1 billion dollars worth of taxpayer's money through inadequate customer risk assessments.
- Served as Chairman of Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
- He generated controversy from PETA for the culling of the 37,000 crows that populated Tokyo.
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 hōsaku in 1994.
Ishihara has also long been critical of the Chinese government. He invited the Dalai Lama and the President of the Republic of China Lee Teng-hui to Tokyo.
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.
Views on foreigners in Japan
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: 三国人 (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 Kantō 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".
Other controversial statements
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
In 2010, Ishihara claimed that Korea under Japanese rule was absolutely justified due to historical pressures from Qing Dynasty and Imperial Russia.
In reference to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Ishihara said "that the disaster was 'punishment from heaven' because Japanese have become greedy".
America's identity is freedom. France's identity is freedom, equality and fraternity. Japan has no sense of that. Only greed. Materiality greed, monetary greed.
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.
Proposal to buy the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
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.
Books written by Ishihara
- Taiyō no kisetsu (太陽の季節), Season of the Sun, 1956: Akutagawa Prize, The Best New Author of the Year Prize.
- Kurutta kajitsu (狂った果実), Crazed Fruit, 1956.
- Kanzen Na Yuugi (完全な遊戯), The Perfect Game, 1956.
- Umi no chizu (海の地図), Map of the sea, 1958.
- Seinen no ki (青年の樹), Tree of the youth.
- Gesshoku (月蝕), Lunar eclipse, 1959.
- Nanbei ōdan ichi man kiro (南米横断1万キロ), 10 thousand kilometers motoring across South America
- Seishun to wa nanda (青春とはなんだ), What does youth mean? .
- Ōinaru umi e (大いなる海へ), To the great sea, 1965.
- Kaeranu umi (還らぬ海), Unretreating Sea 1966.
- Suparuta kyōiku (スパルタ教育) Spartan education 1969．
- Kaseki no mori(化石の森), Petrified forest, 1970: Minister of Education Prize
- Shintarō no seiji chousho (慎太郎の政治調書), Shintaro's political record 1970．
- Shintarō no daini seiji chousho (慎太郎の第二政治調書), Shintaro's second political record 1971．
- Shin Wakan rōeishū (新和漢朗詠集), New Wakan rōeishū (collection of Japanese and Chinese poems) 1973．
- Yabanjin no daigaku (野蛮人の大学), University of barbarians .
- Boukoku -Nihon no totsuzenshi (亡国 -日本の突然死), The ruin of a nation -Japan's sudden death 1982．
- 'Nō' to ieru Nihon (「NO」と言える日本)， The Japan That Can Say No (in collaboration with Akio Morita), 1989.
- Soredemo 'Nō' to ieru Nihon. Nichibeikan no konponmondai (それでも「NO」と言える日本 ―日米間の根本問題―) The Japan That Still Can Say No. Principal problem of the Japan–US relations (in collaboration with Shōichi Watanabe and Kazuhisa Ogawa), 1990.
- Waga jinsei no toki no toki (わが人生の時の時), The sublime moment of my life, 1990.
- Danko 'No' to ieru Nihon (断固「NO」と言える日本) The Japan That Can Strongly Say No (in collaboration with Jun Etō) 1991．
- Mishima Yukio no nisshoku (三島由紀夫の日蝕), The eclipse of Yukio Mishima 1991．
- ’No’ to ieru Asia (「NO」と言えるアジア)， The Asia That Can Say NO (in collaboration with Mahathir Mohamad)
- Kaze ni tsuite no kioku (風についての記憶), My memory about the wind, 1994.
- Otōto (弟), Younger brother, 1996 : Mainichibungakusho Special Prize.
- 'Chichi' nakushite kuni tatazu (“父”なくして国立たず), No country can stand without "father", 1997.
- Sensen fukoku 'Nō' to ieru Nihon keizai -Amerika no kin'yū dorei kara no kaihō- (宣戦布告「NO」と言える日本経済 ―アメリカの金融奴隷からの解放―), Declaration of War, Economy of Japan That Can Say No -Liberation from America's financial slavery, 1998.
- Hokekyō o ikiru (法華経を生きる), To live the Lotus Sutra, 1998.
- Seisan (聖餐) , Eucharist, 1999.
- Kokka naru gen'ei (国家なる幻影) , An illusion called nation , 1999.
- Amerika shinkō wo suteyo 2001 nen kara no nihon senryaku (「アメリカ信仰」を捨てよ ―2001年からの日本戦略)， Stop worshipping America -Japan strategy from 2001, 2000．
- Boku wa kekkon shinai (僕は結婚しない) I won't marry, 2001.
- Ima 'Tamashii' no kyōiku (いま「魂」の教育), Now, 'spirit' education, 2001.
- Ei'en nare, nihon -moto sōri to tochiji no katariai (永遠なれ、日本 -元総理と都知事の語り合い)， Japan Forever – A talk between ex-premier and Tokyo governor (in collaboration with Yasuhiro Nakasone) , 2001．
- Oite koso jinsei (老いてこそ人生)， To get old is the life, 2002.
- Hi no shima (火の島)， Island of fire , 2008．
- Watashi no suki na nihonjin (私の好きな日本人)， My favorite Japanese persons, 2008．
- Saisei (再生)， Recovery, 2010．
- Shin Darakuron -Gayoku to tenbatsu (新・堕落論-我欲と天罰)， New "On Decadance" -Greed and divine punishment ，2011
- Robert Ringer: Winning Through Intimidation 1978．
Translations in English
- The Japan That Can Say No (in collaboration with Akio Morita), Simon & Schuster, 1991, ISBN 0-671-72686-2. Touchstone Books, 1992, ISBN 0-671-75853-5. Cassette version ISBN 0-671-73571-3. Disk version, 1993, ISBN 1-882690-23-0.
He acted in six films, including Crazed Fruit (1956) and The Hole (1957), and co-directed the 1962 film Love at Twenty (with François Truffaut, Marcel Ophüls, Renzo Rossellini and Andrzej Wajda).
- Akutagawa Prize (1956)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (2015)