Japan's answer to Boris quits governship to challenge PM

New political party demands reform of ‘shameful’ anti-war constitution

Tokyo

The Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, has stunned Japan by announcing that he is standing down and quitting the main opposition party to form a new right-wing bloc.

The controversial 80 year-old Mr Ishihara said he wanted to realign Japanese politics and scrap its “ugly” war-renouncing constitution, which he has long criticised as “shameful”.

“There are many contradictions in our politics,” he said. “One contradiction, bigger than anything, is the Japanese constitution, which was imposed by the [post-Second World War US] occupying army, and is rendered in ugly Japanese.”

An outspoken nationalist, Mr Ishihara sparked Japan’s biggest crisis with China in 40 years by launching a private fund to buy islands claimed by both sides. The plan forced the Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, to nationalise the Senkakus, known as Diaoyu in China, triggering anti-Japanese riots across 100 Chinese cities last month and a boycott of Japanese goods that has cost millions of dollars.

Despite outraging liberals, Mr Ishihara is – like Boris Johnson in London – a darling of the right. He has for years demanded that Japan rearm, build nuclear weapons and defend itself against a resurgent China. He is known to have courted Japan’s leading nationalist politicians, including its rising star, Toru Hashimoto, the Mayor of Osaka, who is also launching a bid for national power. Mr Hashimoto is a radical conservative who also wants to dismantle much of Japan’s US-sponsored political architecture, particularly its war-renouncing constitution. “Not being able to have a war on its own is the most pitiful thing about Japan,” he has said. Like Mr Ishihara, he makes no bones about “standing up” to China.

Japan’s largest newspaper, the conservative Yomiuri, said today that the two men would attempt to form what Mr Ishihara calls a political “third force” with the tiny, ultra-right Sunrise Party. The Tokyo Governor said he would discuss returning to national politics with his “comrades”.

The move, which is likely further to antagonise China, had political pundits scratching their heads. “He may well be deluded,” said political commentator Koichi Nakano. “He probably thinks that he gained more fame as a result of the Senkaku dispute and can be a real force again in national politics. He may also have forgotten that he became Governor because he failed in national politics.”

A novelist turned politician, Mr Ishihara lost a contest to lead the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in 1989. He has since won four terms in office as Governor of Tokyo, peppering his career with a string of controversial outbursts. Last year he called the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country “divine punishment” for Japan’s modern “greed”. His disparagement of gays, foreigners and older women, whom he once called “useless”, have earned him the epithet “Japan’s Jean Marie Le Pen”.

But it is Mr Ishihara’s decades-long standoff with Communist China that defines him as a politician. He has sparked repeated anger in Japan’s powerful neighbour by denying Japanese war crimes, some of which he denounces as “Chinese propaganda”. Last month, he described China’s claims over Senkaku/Diaoyu as like a burglar “intent to rob someone’s house by force”. He added: “We must prepare to lock up our door tighter.” 

Mr Ishihara’s new party will try to make its mark on national elections, expected soon. Prime Minister Noda’s ruling party, the DPJ, is expected to lose power, opening the door for a shift to the right. Shinzo Abe, the leader of the main opposition LDP, has views similar to Mr Ishihara, although he is known to be more reticent about expressing them.

Ishihara: The Outbursts

The Japanese army’s slaughter of 300,000 civilians in the Rape of Nanking was “made up by the Chinese”.

Women past the age of reproduction are “evil”, “malignant” and “committing a sin” by continuing to live.

Tokyo’s Roppongi district “is a foreign neighbourhood” with crimes committed by Africans. “We should be letting in people who are intelligent.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C++ Software Developer / Image Processing / 3D Visualisation

£45,000 to £55,000: IT Connections Ltd: C++ Software Developer / Image Process...

Java / J2EE Developer / Agile / Linux

£30,000 to £40,000: IT Connections Ltd: Java / J2EE Developer / Agile / Linux ...

Software Development Manager / Java / J2EE

£45,000 to £55,000: IT Connections Ltd: Software Development Manager / Java / ...

Digital Content Manager,Leicester

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Charter Selection: Leading Nationwide and important...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor