WHO IS SASAKAWA AND WHAT IS HIS FOUNDATION?
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Date: Wed, 04 Dec 1996
From: S C
The Sasakawa Peace Foundation was created by Sasakawa Ryoichi who died a year or so ago. The funds came from a gambling concession that he received from the early postwar government for services rendered. Ultimately these can be regarded as public funds. Sasakawa was an ultra-right-wing activist who acted as a Japanese agent in various questionable activities and business dealings in China during the Japanese ocupation. He was indicted as a Class A war criminal but with the emergence of the Cold War situation, his extreme anti-Communist stance saved him from being brought to trial. He was the major source of funding for ultra-nationalist groups in Japan and had close links to Japanese organized crime (the yakuza) as well as with right wing politicians. The ultra-nationalist element in Japan is quite small, but its influence is amplified by a much broader-based patriotic sentiment which supports or at least tolerates these thugs. So far I have seen no evidence to suggest that the role of the Nippon Foundation has changed substantially since Sasakawa's death.
The grants that the Foundation makes are overseen and coordinated by the Japanese Government and constitute an important part of the official Japanese lobbying effort which is aimed at fostering and maintaining a favorable image of Japan - this is known by such euphemisms as "improving mutual understanding". (See Robert Angel's paper, The Japan Lobby, a summary of which has just been distributed by JPRI.) Although no self-respecting institution that was well-informed on Japanese matters would accept a Sasakawa/Nippon Foundation grant, the combination of reduced US funding for Japanese studies and the efforts of the Japan Lobby for many years virtually deprived the United States and some other countries of an independent capability for research and teaching on Japan. It has also had considerable success in reducing the range of opinion and advice on which US government policy is based.
It is encouraging to see that, partly as a result of the end of the Cold War and partly because the views of Japan propagated by the Japan Lobby are so obviously at odds with reality, more realistic analyses of Japan are now appearing. For the same reasons, the official Japanese line itself may well change to reflect current realities and growing Japanese self-confidence.
Regards, S C
From: dsmollar@UCSD.EDU (David Smollar)
For those interested in the sordid history of Ryoichi Sasakawa, there is an excellent article about him in the March 1994 issue of Asia, Inc. titled, "The Man who Tried to Buy Respect" and authored by Hans Katayama.
In addition, they might want to look at the dossier compiled on Sasakawa by U.S. Occupation authorities in December 1995, file no. 185, declassified by the U.S. Army in 1977, which formed the basis of his arrest as a Class A war criminal, confined in Sugamo Prison until 1948 when he was let go, untried, with the onset of the Cold War.
Some lengthy excerpts from the Katayama article:
"Sasakawa is a man of many faces: jailed for war crimes, accused of pillaging China, soulmate of yakuza gangsters. Now Sasakawa claims he is campaigning for peace though critics insist that what truly inspires him is his bid for a Nobel prize. Had he stepped inside China 45 years ago, his fate would have beeen a bullet in the neck. But today, 'Chinese officials roll out the red carpet for him,' beams a Sasakawa associate of 20 years. 'They always tell me that they will do anything for that man.' Of course they will he's doled out millions for charitable causes across six continents. As chairman of the Japan Shipbuilding Industry Founcation and histrionic, iron-fisted czar of the nation's $18 billion motorboat-race gambling industry, he alone decides how to spend $600 million each year. He has done so for more than three decades. His empire and its philanthropic arm commonly known as the Sasakawa Foudnation rank among the most powerful institutions in Japan....
In 1931, Sasakawa took over leadership of an ultranationalist group, the Patriotic People's Mass Party, and its membership grew from 1,000 to 15,000. He dressed his followers in sinister black uniforms and built an airport with funds he extorted from an Osaka business group. The landing strip was home to a fleet of 22 aircraft, one of which Sasakawa piloted to Rome in 1939 to meet Benito Mussolini, whose 'Black Shirts' inspired the PPMP attire, allegedly as a private envoy of Tokyo. Sasakawa's infamous recollection of the Italian: 'He was a first-class person, the perfect fascist and dictator.' Sasakawa ran the party not only for show, but as a tool to advance his quest for affluence and influence. The fastest way to both was to insinuate himself with the increasingly bellicose Japanese government. He was notorious for his jingoistic speeches and hounded those suspected of 'thought crimes.' He felw goods into newly annexted Manchuria and had the Imperial Navy use his planes to train military pilots. When the Pacific war broke out in 1941, Sasakawa quickly seized upon a lucrative business opportunity: He bought as many mines in Japan as possible and sold the strategic minerals to the military for profit. The scope of his activities soon expanded to include China, and he made frequent jaunts to Shanghai. As the Imperial Army pushed deeper into China, Sasakawa went along for the ride, ransacking gold, diamonds and other valuables along the way. By 1945, a Sasakawa crony, Kodama Yoshio [a name also associated with sordid things Japanese], had enough plunder, including three large sacks of industrial diamonds from Shanghai and Singapore, to fill two planes to take back to Japan. 'The cargo was so heavy,' one eyewitness later recalled, 'the aircraft's wheel shaft warped under the load.' Sasakawa has consistently denied any wrongdoing during the war. 'I have not exploited one yen or one penny,' he once told reporters. 'What I did was to donate several million tuberculosis injections in China.' Yet the Allied Occupation forces felt differently, arresting him as a class-A war criminal in 1945 and confiscating the loot he stole from China...Sasakawa was never tried and in 1948 he was releated. Many suspect he made a deal with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, transforming himself from proto-fascit to vehement anti-Communist. During the 1950s and 1960s, he spent millions beefing up Japan's anti-Communist movement and hobnobbed with Asian strongmen like South Korea's Syngman Rhee and Taiwan's Chiang Kai-shek....
The fount that pays for Sasakawa's antics is the motorboat racing business, one of three state-sanctioned gambling concessions in Japan. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, boat races were held sporadically and a proposal was aired to unify them under one entity, with a portion of the winnings used to help fund the reconstruction of Japanese industry. Sasakawa learned of the bid through his ties to the LIberal Party, a forerunner to the Liberal-Democratic Party, and fought a fierce battle to gain control of the new entity. Sasakawa settled the issue in 1951 with a $13,800 payoff to keep the contenders quiet. Political approval came later the same year, and with it Sasakawa established the Japan Motorboat Racing Association. In a flash of brilliance in 1962, he made himself chairman of the newly created Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation. According to the deal with teh government, 75% of the total take is refunded back to motorboat fans as winnings while the rest covers operating expenses and is distributed among local governments and local racing associations. 'Basically, he set up a system where he controls both ends of the cash flow,' said a Sawakawa-watcher in the financial industry. The Foundation receives 3.3% of total earnings to rebuild Japanese shipping interests, though the sum was supposed to fall under the Finance Ministry's jurisdiction at some point in the future....
As the Japanese economy took off, so did Sasakawa's fortunes. In 1976, motorboat racing raked in $4.5 billion; in 1983, $8.4 billion, and in 1992, it more than doubled again. In 1983, a US publication estimated his personal net worth at $1 billion, a figure unquestionably higher today... His LDP connections weren't the only reason he got away with it. Unlike the gambling franchises for horse and bicycle racing, which are directly controlled by bureaucrats, the JMRA has a patron, the Ministry of Transport, which acts as little more than a rubber stamp. Sasakawa keeps the ministry happy by hiring retiring officials as directors at Sasakawa-affiliated foundations. This explains why its bureau chiefs, among the most feared civil servants in Japan, line up and greet him in front of the ministry office every time he pays a New Year's visit. At teh same time, Sasakawa has been diverting some of the foundation's money to internationl donations, in particular to Asia and Africa. His philanthropy has won him kudos from the United Nations and the gratitude of high-profile do-gooders like former US President Jimmy Carter [Sasakawa helped build the Jimmy Carter library in Atlanta and there is a bust of him in the lobby] and AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor. Much of hs charity has been aimed at Asia hundreds of millions since the 1970s. Recent disbursements include $1million endowments to Beijing, Jilin, Lanzou, Fudan and Nanjin universities in China; $1 million to the University of Malaysia; and $2 million to the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women in Thailand. In addition, the Foundation has dished out a whopping $106 million since 1989 to establish the Japan-based Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund and the Sasakawa Southeast Asia Cooperation Fund...
From: "Eiji Hirabayashi"
Subject: Sasakawa; a missing part in the Japanese version of "Agents of Influence"
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 1996
Dear DFS members,
As the Sasakawa issues seem to be focused in the recent posts, I'd like to point out an interesting fact on this subject.
The Pat Choates's book, "Agents of Influence" was published in 1990, and a year later, the Japanese translation version, "Eikyouryoku no Dairinin" was published in Japan.
While comparing the original and the translation, I've found interesting discrepancies between the two. Though Dr. Choates wrote a lot of anecdotes about Sasakawa in the Chapter 11 of the original, using a State Department document about him, I could not find out the most interesting part (P.178-179) about Sasakawa's "unsavory political history" in the Japanese translation version.
In addition, the Japanese translation version does not use any photographs of Sasakawa,such as the photos of Sasakawa and Mussolini, and Sasakawa and J. Carter, which are shown in the original.
Is it an intentional missing by Dr. Choates, or "voluntarily restraint" in the fear of violent backfire of the Sasakawa's group by the Japanese publisher? If someone knows the reason, please let me know.
I appreciate that many American scholars are revealing various untold facts and stories also for the Japanese public, but I'm afraid that all the contributions and donations by the Japanese entities might be regarded as a shady money by the Sasakawa's case, as Dr. Choates suggested.
I hope the recent Asian money issues will not kill a pure goodwill by any foreign as well as domestic entities.
From: BBCW52A@prodigy.com (THOMAS FLANNIGAN)
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 1996
Many thanks to Mr. Hirabayashi, Mr C, and others for delving into the sensitive world of Sasakawa. I visited the Japan Shipbuilding Museum in 1991, and found that the top floor is essentially a Sasakawa museum. There were photos of Sasakawa shaking hands with the Pope, Prince Charles, Jimmy Carter and others. There were other photos of Sasakawa hugging teddy bears and starving African children. I discovered a plaque that described his life year by year, and noticed that this meticulous record jumped from 1933 to 1947. I asked one of the guards why there was such a gap.
Within 10 seconds, security guards arrived, breathless, and surrounded us. They looked like they were loaded for bear. The first guard must have had some kind of device in his pocket, or perhaps there was some other electronic surveillance that triggered their advance. I apologized and left. I suspect the museum may have had nasty incidents from Korean and Chinese visitors who could read the plaque and lodged protests. When our book came out, the chapter describing this interlude was the only chapter that had been deleted by the publisher. Considering the myriad of sensitive topics touched on in the book, Sasakawa must truly be a little too hard to handle.
Later that year, I was sitting in my early morning Japanese class with my three Korean classmates, and turned the discussion to Sasakawa. The teacher, an unconventional Japanese (not necessarily an oxymoron) shared my concerns. He had never been able to figure out why Sasakawa had scored such a coup with exclusivity in the postwar gambling industry. He said other things which have no place on a public billboard. My own theory is that he was a star protege of Kodama Yoshio. Why he was chosen and others were passed by remains a mystery. Those were the days before they videotaped coronation ceremonies.
Later, I located a copy of Kodama's Sugamo Diary at the University of Chicago library. It was a gift from Kodama, including his tony Setagaya-ku home address. Kodama, Sasakawa and Kiishi Nobosuke were all imprisoned at Sugamo Prison, and were all released at about the same time. I think a deal was done. Mr. Kiishi became the "pro-American" Prime Minister and Mr. Sasakawa made his bid for the Nobel Peace Prize, even opening an office in Oslo. Please draw your own conclusions about Mr. Kodama.
Attorney in Chicago
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 1996
From: C R
Subject: SASAKAWA & THE MOONIES
There have been many enlightening posts on Sasakawa, but I thought I'd touch on what seems to have been left out so far: Sasakawa's deep ties with the leader of the Unification Church (a.k.a. "Moonies"), Sun Myung Moon, the Korean industrialist and self-proclaimed Messiah.
Moon caught Sasakawa's eye back in the 1960's, during a period of deep hatred and fear towards communism among Japanese right-wing circles. Whereas most young Japanese at the time were waving the red flag at campus demonstrations, Sasakawa and his clan (including Kodama and former PM Nobusuke Kishi, all of whom had spent time in Sugamo prison as Class-A war criminals) were impressed by Moon's starry-eyed religious disciples, who were all young, but fervently anti-communist.
In 1967, Sasakawa and Moon founded "Shokyo Rengo," or the "Federation for Victory over Communism," a grass-roots political organization that Sasakawa originally presided over as honorary chairman. Shokyo Rengo's first role in Japan was as the host to a conference for the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which is renown for its utlra-rightist death squads in Latin America and Asia. The conference was held at one of Sasakawa's boat-racing grounds in Kyoto, and the Moonies rallied up support for the meeting.
It is widely believed that most of Moon's power and money in Japan came from Sasakawa, who eventually resigned as chairman of Shokyo Rengo after deciding to lobby for the Nobel Peace Prize (he could not very well attend global peace conferences as Chairman of the "Federation of Victory over Communism" when representatives from the PRC and USSR were attending). The Unification Church's Japanese headquarters in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward is built on land that was formerly owned by former PM Kishi. Moon's Shokyo Rengo had deep ties with Kishi's faction in the Diet even after it was taken over by Abe Shintaro. Shokyo Rengo managed to gave campaign support to as many as 150 Diet members, mostly LDP members, in the early 1990's.
If anyone is interested in this side of Japanese right-wing political history, please see "Gifts of Deceit" (by Baucher (?)) or "Inside the League" (by Anderson).
Regards, C R
(Now click here to go onto The Sasakawa Peace
Foundation's Home Page(in English and Japanese))