Documents related to Masayoshi Ohira
First-rate resource on Japanese political and diplomatic history of the 1970s
Editors: Professor Seiichi Koike, Hiroshima University; Professor Fumio Fukunaga, Dokkyo University
Platform: Full purchase format (no fee for platform use or annual maintenance once purchased)
◆About Documents related to Masayoshi Ohira
A large cache of documents left by Masayoshi Ohira (1910-1980), 68th and 69th Prime Minister of Japan. Composed of a vast and varied selection of primary source material containing everything from diaries and notebooks written personally by Ohira, to correspondence, official documents from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Industry, manuscripts for responses to Diet questions, and for Diet speeches; election material, plus transcripts of interviews with key political and financial officials conducted for the penning of Ohira’s memoirs, this is a resource of the first order for anyone with a serious interest in Japan’s postwar political history.
◆The multifaceted thought of Masayoshi Ohira: from “elliptical thinking” to the Ohira study groups
by Shigeki UnoUniversity of Tokyo Professor; Shigeki Uno
If there is one postwar Japanese politician deserving of serious reexamination today, it is Masayoshi Ohira. It is true that Ohira was not at Japan’s helm as Prime Minister for very long. When one considers how long he spent developing not only his policies, but the ideas and view of history on which they stood, preparing the ground for the prime ministership, his stay at the Kantei was indeed very brief. Yet being a man of letters, Ohira left a great deal of his own writing. Having chosen the ideas of Thomas Aquinas on community for the theme of his graduation thesis, organized study groups with associates even after entering the Ministry of Finance, and read Keynes’ A Treatise on Money from cover to cover, it is fair to say this was a man not lacking in-depth academic knowledge.
Ohira’s thought can probably be encapsulated in the phrase “elliptical thinking”: the idea that what is important in the world does not necessarily fit neatly within concentric circles; that wisdom can be found rather in how a balance is struck between dual competing values. Freedom and order, the government’s authority to levy taxes, and the rights of the taxpayer, were issues that had occupied him since his days as a government bureaucrat. In later years, after entering politics, he declared the condition for a “robust conservatism” to be not thinking solely of the present, but stepping into both past and future. In today’s world of readily-digestible soundbites, where we are accustomed to decisive language being used to conclude matters swiftly, the tenacious, multifaceted thinking of this man with a reputation in Japan as somewhat of a “plodder” is more significant than ever.
Not only did Ohira inherit the conservative mainstream of the LDP that had existed since Shigeru Yoshida, on his own initiative he rallied up-and-coming intellectuals and bureaucrats to form a number of study groups. The themes addressed by these groups–such as garden cities, Pacific Rim solidarity, and Japan’s cultural life –remain important challenges for the nation even today. Having achieved phenomenal economic growth, what kind of value should Japanese society be striving for? How can cultural value be restored to people? And can both cities and regional communities exist successfully? Ohira’s commitment to these study groups was evident not only in his attendance of their meetings, but the great care in choosing their members, and setting the topics.
Word has it this online resource also contains many manuscripts and drafts from Ohira’s own pen. The advent of online access to texts of all types related to Masayoshi Ohira makes this an ideal opportunity to take another, considered look at his political and philosophical observations.
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*Journals/schedules of the Ohira office
*Biography resources and drafts
*Documents On the Seto Ohashi Bridge Dissolution of Diet question Tokyo G7 Summit Resources from Ohira’s meetings as PM Policy statements at special Diet sessions Measures to prevent reemerging suspicions surrounding political funding Plan for SDPJ/Komeito/DSP alliance No confidence vote, related press conference Visits to US etc. Resources used to draft policy speeches for 87th Diet session Resources used to draft policy speeches for 88th Diet session Resources used to draft policy speeches for 91st Diet session Administrative reforms Trips to China Main points of comments during visits to US Conversations with PM Ohira Documents from the Ohira office
*As Foreign Minister Ministerial press conferences 1972 Ministerial conferences July – December 1972 Ministerial press conferences January – December 1973 Ministerial conferences January – December 1973 Trip to China – January 1974 Ministerial conferences January – December 1974 Ministerial press conferences January – December 1974
*Files generated by the Ohira office
*Diaries and notebooks of Masayoshi Ohira