Shintaro Ishihara called an impromptu press conference at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office on October 25 and announced, “As of today, I resign as Governor of Tokyo to form a new political party.” Soon afterward, he tendered his resignation to the chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. On November 13, he launched his “Sunrise Party” by renaming the “The Sunrise Party of Japan” which he formed on April 10, 2010. Three days later on November 16, he merged his new party with the “Japan Restoration Party” led by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto with the aim of making it a third party to work for Japan’s revival outside the framework of the two main parties – the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Young students today may probably know Ishihara only as Governor of Tokyo. But he was essentially a novelist. Now he has a strong power in the political world. But he used to yield strong influences in the literary world, too. Let us have a look at him as a novelist, not as a politician.
In 1956, Ishihara debuted in the literary world with his “Season of the Sun” when he was a Hitotsubashi University student. The best seller brought him the 34th Akutagawa Prize, making him the youngest person at the time to win the prestigious literary award. It was since then that the media has come to spotlight the winners of the prize. In that sense, Ishihara made a great contribution toward the popularity the annual prize has enjoyed in subsequent years. His short-lived “Sunrise Party” was named after his book.
His typical books like “Season of the Sun”, “Crazed Fruit” and “Punishment Room” depicted love of new-generation youngsters with materialistic feelings who indulged in dissolute and disorderly behaviors. Japan at the time had just come out of the postwar doldrums, preparing its way for years of high economic growth that would follow. The unethical and immoral violence driven by hopes and fears of youngsters in those days won the sympathy of the same generation. The “sun tribe” who admired the characters in Ishihara’s books and imitated their delinquency emerged as a social problem. His hairstyle known as “Shintaro cut” was in rage. He became postwar Japan’s new standard bearer.
After his debut as a novelist 56 years ago, Ishihara authored many books that belittled the traditional ethics in favor of a new order, winning the support of people who held up Japan’s new age. That style has not changed since he turned a politician in 1968. What will be in store now for his new politic party?
Written by: Yudai Kodera