Masashi Ishibashi


Masashi Ishibashi (Japanese: 石橋 政嗣 Ishibashi Masashi, October 6, 1924 – December 9, 2019[1]) was a Japanese politician who served as chairman of the Japan Socialist Party from 1983 to 1986.[2][3]

Masashi Ishibashi
Masashi Ishibashi.jpg
Japanese politician and chairman of the Japan Socialist Party
Chairman of the Japan Socialist Party
In office
7 September 1983 – 8 September 1986
Preceded byIchio Asukata
Succeeded byTakako Doi
Personal details
Born(1924-10-06)October 6, 1924
Yilan City, Taihoku Prefecture, Taiwan
DiedDecember 9, 2019(2019-12-09) (aged 95)
Political partyJapan Socialist Party
Alma materTaiwan College of Commerce


Early lifeEdit

Born in colonial Taiwan, he graduated from what today is Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School and afterwards enrolled at Taipei Higher Commercial School, which today is National Taiwan University. Ishibashi was conscripted in 1944 and later reached the rank of apprentice officer by the end of World War II.

In 1947, he formed a labor union for the "labor service corps" of the American occupation of Japan and was its general secretary.

Political careerEdit

He began his political life as a member of the Nagasaki Prefectural Assembly, being elected in 1951. He was elected to the House of Representatives (Japan) for the first time in 1955, running from Nagasaki 2nd district for the Leftist Socialist Party of Japan. In 1966, Ishibashi advocated for the "unarmed neutrality" policy, in which the Japan Self-Defense Forces would be reorganised into a national police force and gradually reduced until an unarmed and diplomatically neutral state can be achieved.

Only a few months preceding the 1983 general elections, Ishibashi assumed the role of chairman for the Japan Socialist Party (JSP). Ishibashi and the JSP cooperated with other opposition parties and moderated their party platform a bit to the right. As a result, the JSP weathered the 1983 elections fairly well and saw its long-running decline in fortunes slow down.[4][5] In 1984, Ishibashi became the first ever serving chairman of the JSP to visit the United States, calling on Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during Ishibashi's stay in Washington, D.C.[6] Ishibashi also visited North Korea for five days and had talks with Kim Il-sung in late September 1984.[7]

In 1986, under Ishibashi's tenure, the JSP adopted a new program entitled the "New Declaration of the Japan Socialist Party" which saw the party shift in a direction closer to western-style social democratic parties. Unfortunately for Ishibashi, this program did not convince voters that meaningful reform would come from the JSP (as opposed to mavericks within the LDP such as Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone), and as a result the JSP lost 27 seats in the 1986 general elections, and also saw its popular vote fall by 2.26% compared to the previous 1983 election. As is normal in Japanese politics, Ishibashi resigned from his position as chairman following this crushing defeat.

Later lifeEdit

In later years, he acted as an advisor for JSP chairwoman Takako Doi in strengthening cooperation with centrist parties. Ishibashi's reputation as an inter-party compromiser was seen in the fact that he refused to go along with chairwoman Doi's request that Ishibashi help campaign for an ambitious 180 candidates being fielded by the JSP for the 1990 general election, as this would involve hurting the electoral prospects of centrist allies. The same year as that election, Ishibashi retired from the political world.

After retiring, he turned to memoir writing. In 1994, he was offered the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, but he declined. For the next decade, he turned down similar awards which came every year. Ishibashi died at a Fukuoka hospital in 2019 as a result of old age.


  1. ^ 「非武装中立論」石橋政嗣・元社会党委員長死去 95歳 中曽根元首相らと論戦 ["Non-armed neutral theory" Mr ISHIBASHI Masashi, former Socialist Party chairman died, 95 years old, Controversy with former Prime Minister NAKASONE.] (in Japanese). Mainichi Shimbun. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
  2. ^ "Ministers Reshuffled by Tanaka". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. 11 November 1974. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Ex-Japan Socialist Party Head Masashi Ishibashi Dies at 95". December 13, 2019.
  4. ^ Thayer, Nathaniel B. (1985-01-01). "Japan in 1984: The Nakasone Era Continues". Asian Survey. 25 (1): 51–64. doi:10.2307/2644056. ISSN 0004-4687.
  5. ^ Baerwald, Hans H. (1984). "Japan's December 1983 House of Representatives Election: The Return of Coalition Politics". Asian Survey. 24 (3): 265–278. doi:10.2307/2644066. ISSN 0004-4687.
  6. ^ Kreisberg, Paul H. (1985). "The United States and Asia in 1984". Asian Survey. 25 (1): 1–20. doi:10.2307/2644053. ISSN 0004-4687.
  7. ^ Kihl, Young Whan (1985). "North Korea in 1984: "The Hermit Kingdom" Turns Outward!". Asian Survey. 25 (1): 65–79. doi:10.2307/2644057. ISSN 0004-4687.
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Japan Socialist Party
Succeeded by
Preceded by General Secretary of the Japan Socialist Party
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Hiroichi Tsujihara
Youngest member of the House of Representatives of Japan
Succeeded by
Kazuo Tanikawa