Ishihara Shintaro, who resigned as governor of Tokyo in October 2012 after thirteen years in the post, has never been a stranger to controversy. Known for his straight-talking style, Ishihara’s remarks have frequently made waves among the Japanese public; despite this, he is the second longest running governor of Tokyo in history. As his period as governor of Japan’s capital ends, netizens have been reflecting on Ishihara’s governorship, with many of his memorable quotes being collated online. The article below discusses Ishihara’s career as governor. Some of his more well-known statements are also translated below, along with netizen opinions on the politician.
From Sankei Shimbun Online:
Fair Argument? Offensive Statement? The Sayings of Straight-Talking Ishihara
Ishihara Shintaro was known for his undiplomatic antics. On one hand his words created followers, but on the other hand they were often a source of controversy. As he claimed to ‘change Japan starting with Tokyo’, it went beyond just the city and affected politics, including diplomatic relations.
One of Ishihara’s agendas during his first term was the regulation of diesel car exhaust fumes. During his governor’s election campaign in April 2003, he harshly criticized the nation as ‘lazy’ for being late in taking on the regulation, and Tokyo city enacted the regulation of diesel exhaust fumes before it was done so nationwide.
Accepting rubble resulting from the 3/11 earthquake into Tokyo, Ishihara roared in response to voices of opposition: ‘Just tell them to shut up’. And the city took a leading role in processing the rubble on a large scale.
In April this year, he stated ‘What’s wrong with the Japanese protecting Japanese land?’, and declared his intentions to buy the Senkaku Islands. Afterwards, the islands were declared national territory by Japan, but donations given to the city reached a total of more than 1.5 billion yen.
On the other hand, when Shinginko Tokyo, a bank that Ishihara had played a central role in founding, got into financial trouble in June 2007, he excused himself by saying: ‘I have the responsibility of coming up with the idea but the main responsibility is with those that run it’, leading to criticism that he was evading his responsibilities. Immediately after the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, he was heavily criticized for saying that the tsunami was a ‘divine punishment’, for which he apologised the next day.
In April 2012, when he pointed out the increase in atrocious crimes by illegal immigrants, there was a strong backlash to his use of the word ‘sankokujin’ [a derogatory term referring to people from former Japanese colonies]. Ishihara then retracted his use of the term, saying that ‘I’m sorry if I hurt people’. There was also a case in which he stated that ‘You can’t count in French’ for which French people resident in Japan protested.
Below are some more of Ishihara’s controversial remarks.
From Naver Matome:
‘No one’s stupid enough to warn people that they’re going to commit suicide. If you’re going to do it, get it over with.’ — In 2006, when a letter warning suicide by a bullied student arrived to the Ministry of Education.
‘It is a waste and a sin that women who have lost their reproductive capabilities are alive.’
‘Do those people have personalities?’ — At a press conference after visiting a hospital where people with severe handicaps were treated.
‘It’s not just kids; there are even homosexuals on TV like it’s no big deal. Japan has become unruly.’
‘Westerners playing Judo is like beasts fighting.’
‘Japan needs nuclear weapons. Unless we have them, we won’t be treated as equals. Look at world politics…The only way Japan will survive is to set up a military regime. Unless we do so, Japan will become a vassal state. We should also have military service.’
‘The very identity of the Japanese is selfishness. We need to utilize this tsunami to wash away selfishness. Indeed, it seems to me that it was a divine punishment.’
‘The thing is, a black person has become the president of the world’s number one country, so those black people’s nations in Africa and what have you, they’re going to relate to that. And if they all surge forward to vote en masse for the US, that’s going to be a problem.’
‘There was a scale 6 earthquake. Good job it happened out in a place like that.’ –Statement about March 2007 earthquake.
‘The most evil and damaging thing that civilization has brought is women who are old hags.’
‘Those who wrote this must have a low IQ’— In 1977, after recieving letters from Minamata patients.
Comments from Naver Matome:
We all know that the conflict over the Senkaku islands started with Ishihara. I feel bad.
Isn’t anyone going to back him up saying ‘I support you Ishihara! Don’t give in to such an article!’(笑)
The governor of the capital is just scum, Japan going down is inevitable.
Kuroiwa [governor of Kanagawa] and Ishihara, I’d vote for Ishihara for sure. If he was saying things like Kuroiwa says, he’d probably be claiming that Okinawa was his.
So haughty……why such a person is liked……it’s hard to understand.
This governor Ishihara doesn’t understand people in low social positions……He should have become a mayor at some countryside or prefecture where there are lower class people, to understand the position they are in and what values they have. That way he would’ve been a better governor.
It’s hard to understand why he is still able to be the governor.The comment where he says we should have nuclear weapons, what next? Then he’d say we should deploy them…..He has said once that there should be a nuclear bomb dropped on Japan, he says we should have military service….he really wants to have war. Does he understand that this is provoking other countries? Will he take responsibility if we get into a war?
I S Y O U R H E A D O K ?www
……..huh, is he an idiot?
I think his words are harsh but I agree with a lot of what he is saying.
Loves the country but does not love the people.
Shintaro, isn’t it you who needs a divine punishment?
Ishihara has problems, but isn’t it a bigger problem that Tokyo citizens voted for him? Aren’t Tokyoites ashamed that such a person is at the top? wwwww
He says ‘divine punishment’ to those who suffered from the disaster,
He says ‘bad and harmful’ to the elderly ladies,
He says ‘someone who’s lacking’ to homosexuals,
He says ‘it’s ok in the countryside’ to the Noto penninsula earthquake.
Where is this person’s viewpoint? Are you sure that it’s OK to have a person with such a personality? As Tokyo governor?
Students today probably don’t know about this, but this guy is just there because of his younger brother. If it wasn’t for his brother Ishihara would’ve been kicked out already. People would say ‘Ishihara? That insane old man?’
Seems like he’s the one whose frontal lobes are going to mush [in reference to Ishihara’s comment about an older politician]. Everyone in Tokyo, please make sure he doesn’t win the next governorship. By Yamagata.
I’m surprised he’s been safe so far saying these things…..unbelievable namu amida butsu….
Wow, this person…who does he think he is? He’s using derogatory terms like candy; if it was America people wouldn’t leave him be, he’d have to resign immediately.
You’re the one who should get divine punishment, Ishihara!
I have no idea what’s wrong with the things he said.