Shintaro Ishihara

From Academic Kids

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Ishihara2.jpg
Ishihara (right) in a typical election poster pose with local lawmaker Ichiro Akita (left).

Shintaro Ishihara (石原 慎太郎 Ishihara Shintarō; born September 30, 1932), author, outspoken Japanese nationalist, populist, and current governor of Tokyo, was born in Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. After winning the Akutagawa Prize (Japan's most prestigious literary prize) when he was a 23-year-old college student, he and his now deceased brother Yujiro Ishihara, who was Japan's most popular movie star, became the center of a youth-oriented cult. Ishihara has stayed in the public limelight since then.

In the early 1960s, he concentrated on writing, including plays, novels, and a musical version of Treasure Island. He was involved in directing, ran a theater company, traveled to the North Pole, raced his own yacht, and crossed South America on a motorcycle.

He entered politics in 1965 via the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), but was often critical of it. In 1973, he joined with thirty other LDP lawmakers in the anti-communist Seirankai, or Blue Storm Group; the group gained notoriety in the media for sealing a pledge of unity in their own blood.

In 1989, Ishihara came to the attention of the West through his book, A Japan That Can Say No, co-authored with then-Sony chairman Akio Morita. The book called on his fellow countrymen to stand up to the United States. He dropped out of national politics in 1995, but remains a national political figure.

In 1999, he ran on an independent platform and was elected governor of Tokyo. Since then he has undertaken a number of bold and popular moves at the metropolitan government level, such as imposing a new tax on banks' gross profits and holding up a bottle of diesel soot as he restricted the operation of diesel-powered vehicles. At the same time, he has gained notoriety for statements referring to Tokyo-based Chinese and Koreans as sangokujin (三国人), an old term literally meaning "third-country person" which is now considered to be derogatory. Ishihara also declared in a 1995 Playboy interview that the Nanjing Massacre "never happened" and was a "Chinese creation".

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