This week we will be discussing the great political wheeler and dealer of modern Japanese politics: Tanaka Kakuei. We will trace the rise of this man of the people, the heights of his power, and his eventual fall from grace, as well as discussing his political legacy. Also, there will be bizarre assassination plots involving yakuza and revenge-minded porno actors. Should be a good time.
Listen to the episode here
Schlesinger, Jacob. Shadow Shoguns: The Rise and Fall of Postwar Japan’s Political Machine.
Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)
Tanaka Kakuei in the early 1960s.
Prime Minister Tanaka in 1973 with US President Richard M. Nixon.
Kodama Yoshio (second from right, first row) was a yakuza, a backer of Tanaka, a participant in the Lockheed Scandal, and a former indicted war criminal and member of the Gen’yosha, an ultranationalist society.
Maeno Mitsuyasu, the politically-minded porn star who was so enraged by the Lockheed Scandal that he rammed a plane into the home of Kodama Yoshio.
Takeshita Noboru after his time as Prime Minister. Takeshita led the coup that would destroy Tanaka’s career.
Tanaka, in the center, is flanked on the right by his traitorous disciple Ozawa Ichiro, who remains a wheeler-and-dealer in Tanaka’s mold to this day. The other two people in the picture are American Political Scientist Stanford Ovshinsky and a Japanese diplomat named Ito Momoko.
Tanaka Kakuei’s daughter, Tanaka Makiko, was part of the cabinet of Koizumi Junichiro and remains politically active. This photo of her is from 2001.