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Inejiro Asanuma (浅沼 稲次郎, Asanuma Inejirō, December 27, 1898 – October 12, 1960) was a Japanese politician, and leader of the Japan Socialist Party. A noted public speaker, Asanuma was unusual in postwar Japan for his forceful advocacy of socialism, his support of the Chinese Communist Party, and his criticism of the U.S-Japanese relations was particularly controversial.[citation needed]

Inejiro Asanuma
Inejirō Asanuma 1955.jpg
3rd Chair of the Japan Socialist Party
In office
March 23, 1960 – October 12, 1960
Preceded by Suzuki Mosaburō
Succeeded by Jōtarō Kawakami
Member of the Japanese House of Representatives from Tokyo's 1st district
In office
April 11, 1946 – October 12, 1960
In office
February 21, 1936 – April 30, 1942
Personal details
Born (1898-12-27)December 27, 1898
Miyake-jima, Izu Islands, Tokyo, Japan
Died October 12, 1960(1960-10-12) (aged 61)
Political party Japan Socialist Party
Alma mater Waseda University

Asanuma was assassinated by a nationalist while speaking in a televised political debate in Tokyo. His violent death was seen in graphic detail on national television, causing widespread public shock and outrage.[1] The weapon used was a Yoroi-dōshi, a traditional sword.[2]

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Asanuma was born in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo on December 27, 1898.[3] His mother died during his birth, leaving him to be raised by his father, who later died of cancer at the age of 42.[4]

Political careerEdit

 
Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by Yasushi Nagao.[5] The photo was taken directly after Yamaguchi stabbed Asanuma and is here seen attempting a second stab, although he was restrained before that could happen.

In the 1930s Asanuma was a member of several pro-military, far-right uyoku dantai and supported Hideki Tojo. He served in the Diet from 1936. He grew dissatisfied with the direction World War II was taking[3] and withdrew his candidacy from the 1942 election and retired from politics until after Japan's defeat.[4] When he returned to politics, it was as a socialist and left-wing activist.[3]

Asanuma was widely criticized for a 1959 incident in which he visited Communist-controlled Mainland China and called the United States "the shared enemy of China and Japan" during a speech in Beijing. When he returned from this trip he wore a Mao suit while disembarking from a plane in Japan, sparking criticism even from Socialist leaders.[4] At that time, Japan and many other countries recognized the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the rightful government of Mainland China.[citation needed]

Assassination and legacyEdit

On October 12, 1960, Asanuma was assassinated by 17-year-old Otoya Yamaguchi, a militant nationalist, during a televised political debate for the coming elections for the House of Representatives. While Asanuma spoke from the lectern at Tokyo's Hibiya Hall, Yamaguchi rushed onstage and ran his yoroi-dōshi (a traditional samurai sword) through Asanuma's ribs on the left side, killing him. Japanese television company NHK was video recording the debate for later transmission and the tape of Asanuma's assassination was shown many times to millions of viewers.[1][6] The photograph of Asanuma's assassination won its photographer Yasushi Nagao both the Pulitzer Prize and World Press Photo of the Year.[3]

The Japanese public was deeply shocked by Asanuma's assassination. In its wake, a spate of mass demonstrations for peace and order ensued across the country. The killer Yamaguchi was captured at the scene of the crime, and a few weeks afterwards committed suicide while in police custody.[7]

Right-wing groups celebrated Asanuma's assassin as a martyr; they gifted a burial coat, kimono, and belt to his parents and performed a memorial service for him. They celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination in Hibiya Park in October 2010.[3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Chun, Jayson Makoto (2006). A Nation of a Hundred Million Idiots?: A Social History of Japanese Television, 1953–1973. Routledge. pp. 184–185. ISBN 978-0-415-97660-2. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  2. ^ http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/yamaguchi-assassinates-asanuma-1960/
  3. ^ a b c d e Newton 2014, p. 234.
  4. ^ a b c 鶴崎友亀『浅沼稲次郎小伝』(たいまつ新書、1979年)1998年に新時代社より復刻。 ISBN 4167209047(復刻版)
  5. ^ Zelizer, Barbie (2010). About to Die: How News Images Move the Public. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 183. ISBN 0199752133. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  6. ^ Langdon, Frank (1973). Japan's Foreign Policy. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. p. 19. ISBN 0774800151. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  7. ^ "Leftist's Killer Suicide in Japan". The New York Times. 3 November 1960. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 

Works citedEdit

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Mosaburō Suzuki
Chair of the Japan Socialist Party
1960
Succeeded by
Saburo Eda
Preceded by
N/A
General Secretary of the Japan Socialist Party
1955–1960
Preceded by
New post
General Secretary of the Farmer-Labour Party
1925
Succeeded by
Party banned