Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Kishi Nobusuke (1896–1987)

Conservative Japanese politician and prime minister (1957–1960). Born on 13 November 1896 in Tabuse-chō in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, Kishi Nobusuke graduated from the law school of Tokyo Imperial University in 1920. That same year he entered government work in the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. In 1936 he was appointed assistant general manager of the government in Manchukuo, an area of Northeastern China annexed by Japan in 1932. Kishi became one of the top economic bureaucrats in Manchukuo. In 1939 he returned to Japan as undersecretary of commerce and industry, and in 1941 General Tōjō Hideki appointed Kishi minister of commerce and industry in his first cabinet. When the Commerce and Industry Ministry was converted to the Munitions Ministry in 1943, Kishi became a minister of state and undersecretary of munitions.

During the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II, Kishi was detained as a suspected "Class-A" war criminal from 1945 to 1948. Ultimately acquitted by the Tokyo Tribunal, he was banned from public life until 1952, when he joined the anti–Yoshida Shigeru faction and became secretary-general of the Democratic Party. Kishi was largely responsible for uniting all of Japan's conservative parties into the powerful Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 1955 and served as the first head of the LDP.

When ailing Prime Minister Ishibashi Tanzan resigned in 1957, Kishi assumed the post of prime minister. His first cabinet lasted only until 1958, but he quickly assembled a second cabinet that same year, which lasted until 1960.

As prime minister, Kishi authorized war reparations to Indonesia and authorized the implementation of the Japanese National Defense Plan to fortify Japanese defensive capabilities. He also traveled to the United States in 1957 to talk with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Most notably, Kishi sought renewal of the United States–Japan Security Treaty. He again journeyed to Washington and in January 1960 returned to Japan with a new security treaty. But he was soon overwhelmed by a widespread backlash to the treaty, which many perceived as one that would sublimate Japanese interests to those of the Americans. Amid the growing public uproar, late in the evening of 19 May 1960 Kishi's government rammed the treaty through the Diet (parliament) on a snap vote. On 15 July 1960, he was forced to resign thanks in part to this heavy-handed parliamentary maneuver. Kishi died on 8 August 1987 in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Nenashi Kiichi


Further Reading
Packard, George R. Protest in Tokyo: The Security Treaty Crisis of 1960. Princeton, NJ: Greenwood, 1966.; Schaller, Michael. Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
 

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