Inejiro Asanuma

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. Asanuma became a forceful advocate of socialism in post-war Japan. He was noted for his support of the Chinese Communist Party, and his criticism of U.S–Japanese relations, which were particularly controversial.

Inejiro Asanuma
Asanuma Inejiro 1948.JPG
Asanuma in 1948
1st General Secretary of the Japan Socialist Party
In office
October 13, 1955 – March 23, 1960
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byJōtarō Kawakami
3rd Chairman of the Japan Socialist Party
In office
March 23, 1960 – October 12, 1960
Preceded bySuzuki Mosaburō
Succeeded byJōtarō Kawakami
Member of the Japanese House of Representatives from Tokyo 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, Tokyo, Japan
DiedOctober 12, 1960(1960-10-12) (aged 61)
Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Cause of deathAssassination
Resting placeTama Cemetery,
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyJapan Socialist Party
Alma materWaseda University

Asanuma was assassinated with a yoroi-dōshi, a traditional sword,[1] by ultranationalist Otoya Yamaguchi 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.

Early lifeEdit

Asanuma was born on the island of Miyake-jima, a remote volcanic island that is administratively part of Tokyo, on December 27, 1898.[2] His mother died during his birth, leaving him to be raised by his father, who later died of cancer at the age of 42.[3]

Political careerEdit

He served in the Diet from 1936. He grew dissatisfied with the direction World War II was taking[2] and withdrew his candidacy from the 1942 election and retired from politics until after Japan's defeat.[3] He later returned to politics as a socialist and left-wing activist.[2]

Asanuma was widely criticized for a 1959 incident in which he visited Communist 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.[3] At this time, Japan, its ally the United States, and many other countries recognized the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the legitimate government representing Greater China.[4]


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.

On October 12, 1960, Asanuma was assassinated by 17-year-old Otoya Yamaguchi, a 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 videorecording the debate for later transmission and the tape of Asanuma's assassination was shown many times to millions of viewers.[6][7] The photograph of Asanuma's assassination won its photographer Yasushi Nagao both the Pulitzer Prize and World Press Photo of the Year.[2]

Yamaguchi was captured at the scene of the crime, and a few weeks afterwards committed suicide by hanging while in police custody.[8]


  1. ^ "Using a traditional blade, 17-year-old Yamaguchi assassinates politician Asanuma in Tokyo, 1960". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Newton 2014, p. 234.
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Michael Y.M. Kao, "Taiwan's and Beijing's Campaigns for Unification," in Harvey Feldman, Michael Y.M. Kao, eds., Taiwan in a Time of Transition (New York: Paragon House, 1988), 188.
  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. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Langdon, Frank (1973). Japan's Foreign Policy. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. p. 19. ISBN 0774800151. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  8. ^ "Leftist's Killer Suicide in Japan" (PDF). 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
Succeeded by
Saburo Eda
Preceded by
General Secretary of the Japan Socialist Party
Preceded by
New post
General Secretary of the Farmer-Labour Party
Succeeded by
Party banned