Nobusuke Kishi

Nobusuke Kishi
Nobusuke Kishi
岸 信介
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
31 January 1957 – 19 July 1960
Acting until 25 February 1957
Monarch Shōwa
Preceded by Tanzan Ishibashi
Succeeded by Hayato Ikeda
Personal details
Born 13 November 1896(1896-11-13)
Tabuse, Japan
Died 7 August 1987(1987-08-07) (aged 90)
Political party Liberal Democratic Party (1955–1987)
Other political
Democratic Party (1952–1955)
Alma mater Tokyo Imperial University

Nobusuke Kishi (岸 信介 Kishi Nobusuke?, November 13, 1896 – August 7, 1987) was a Japanese politician and the 56th and 57th Prime Minister of Japan from February 25, 1957 to June 12, 1958 and from then to July 19, 1960. He was often called[who?] Shōwa no yōkai (昭和の妖怪 "the Shōwa era ghost").


Early life

Kishi was born Nobusuke Satō in Tabuse, Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, but left his family at a young age to move in with the more affluent Kishi family, adopting their family name. His biological younger brother, Eisaku Satō, would also go on to become a prime minister.

Political career

Kishi attended Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) and entered the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 1920. In 1935, he became one of the top officials involved in the industrial development of Manchukuo, where he was later accused of exploiting Chinese forced labor[1]. Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō, himself a veteran of the Manchurian campaign, appointed Kishi Minister of Commerce and Industry in 1941, and he held this position until Japan's surrender in 1945. He was also elected to the Lower House of the Diet of Japan in 1942.

As with other members of the former Japanese governement, Kishi was held at Sugamo Prison as a "Class A" war crimes suspect by the order of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. Unlike Tōjō (and several other cabinet members), however, Kishi was released in 1948 and was never indicted or tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. However, he remainder legally prohibited from entering public affairs because of the Allied occupation's purge of members of the old regime.

When the purge was fully rescinded in 1952 with the end of the Allied occupation of Japan, Kishi was central in creating the "Japan Reconstruction Federation" (Nippon Saiken Renmei). He built his federation party around a number of former Minseito (one of the two main prewar conservative parties) politicians and control bureaucrats, and made Shigemitsu Mamoru, the former Foreign Minister, its nominal leader. The party goals were anti-communism, promotion of small and medium-sized businesses, deepening of U.S.-Japan economic relations, and revision of the Constitution. Kishi's federation failed in its first (and only) electoral test. When Yoshida Shigeru called for elections in the autumn of 1952, Kishi was not prepared and his young party was crushed at the polls. [1]

Kisi flirted with joining the Japan Socialist Party but, at the urging of his brother, Sato Eisaku, he turned reluctantly to Yoshida's Liberal Party. Kishi rationalized cooperation with Yoshida as a way of getting inside the main conservative tent so that he might transform it from within. At first, Yoshida—whose battles with Kishi dated from their opposing positions during the wartime mobilization—wanted no part of him, so much so that he had intervened with the Occupation authorities to keep Kishi from being de-purged. But this was a time of fluid ideological borders and great political desperation. Kishi brought to the table considerable political resources. He had money and (not unrelatedly) a battalion of politicians, both of which made his partnership palatable, if not appealing, to Yoshida. In the event, Yoshida took him in and Kishi won his first postwar Diet seat in 1953, and was reelected eight times until his retirement from politics in 1979.

In 1955, the Democratic Party and Liberal Party merged to elect Ichirō Hatoyama as the head of the new Liberal Democratic Party. Two prime ministers later, in 1957, Kishi was voted in following the resignation of the ailing Tanzan Ishibashi.

In the first year of Kishi's term, Japan joined the United Nations Security Council, paid reparations to Indonesia, set up a new commercial treaty with Australia, and signed peace treaties with Czechoslovakia and Poland. In 1959, he visited Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kishi's next foreign policy initiative was much more difficult: reworking Japan's security relationship with the United States.

That November, Kishi laid down his proposals for a revamped extension of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty. After closing the discussion and vote without the opposition group in the Diet of Japan, demonstrators clashed with police in Nagatachō, at the steps of the National Diet Building. About 500 people were injured in the first month of demonstrations. Despite their magnitude, Kishi did not think much of the demonstrations, referring to them as "distasteful" and "insignificant." [2] Once the protests died down, Kishi went to Washington, and in January 1960 returned to Japan with a new and unpopular Treaty of Mutual Cooperation. Demonstrations, strikes and clashes continued as the government pressed for ratification of the treaty. In June, on his way to the airport, White House Press Secretary James Hagerty was besieged in his car by protesters and had to be evacuated by military helicopter. To his embarrassment, Kishi had to request that President Dwight Eisenhower postpone his planned state visit, which never took place.

On July 15, 1960, amidst growing public furor over the treaty, Kishi resigned and Hayato Ikeda became prime minister.

On December 14, 2006, Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, made a speech in the Diet of Japan. He stated "It was Prime Minister Kishi who was instrumental in India being the first recipient of Japan's ODA. Today India is the largest recipient of Japanese ODA and we are extremely grateful to the government and people of Japan for this valuable assistance."[3]

Kishi and the LDP

Kishi is credited as being a key player in the initiation of the "1955 System", the extended period during which a single political party (the LDP) remained dominant. Kishi's role in the late 1950s was one of consolidating the conservative camp against perceived threats by the Japan Socialist Party. His actions have been described as originating the most successful money-laundering operation in the history of Japanese politics.[4]


In 1979, Kishi was awarded The United Nations Peace Medal with Ryoichi Sasakawa.

He was apparently awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum posthumously, though the year is unclear.


Shintarō Abe is Kishi's son-in-law, and his child Shinzō Abe, the former prime minister, is Kishi's grandson.


  1. ^ Dower, John (2000). Embracing Defeat. W. W. Norton and Company. pp. 454. 
  2. ^ Bonus to be wisely spent, Time, January 25, 1960.
  3. ^ Embassy of India in Japan; Prime Minister's speech to the Japanese diet on December 14, 2006 (Doc file)
  4. ^ Kishi and Corruption: An Anatomy of the 1955 System, Japan Policy Research Institute Working Paper No. 83, December 2001.
Political offices
Preceded by
Tanzan Ishibashi
Prime Minister of Japan
Jan 1957 – Jul 1960
Succeeded by
Hayato Ikeda
Preceded by
Mamoru Shigemitsu
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Dec 1956 – Jul 1957
Succeeded by
Aiichiro Fujiyama
Preceded by
Seizō Sakonji
Minister of Commerce & Industry
Oct 1941 – Oct 1943
Succeeded by
Hideki Tōjō

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