Date: 19 January 2017
Dr. Andrew Levidis presented his forthcoming manuscript concerning Japan’s long history of political conservatism, a history personified by the life and career of Kishi Nobusuke (1896-1987). A powerful enemy of democratic and liberal ideas, suspected class-A war criminal, founder of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and prime minister (1957-1960), Kishi’s presence near the center of power spanned the most fateful periods of modern Japanese history. Kishi Nobusuke bequeathed a powerful legacy to postwar Japan: a managerial state built by the principal champion of total war; a conservative tradition committed to managing society; and a factionally riven but effective – Liberal Democratic Party – that has ruled Japan virtually unchallenged to the present. Kishi pioneered and institutionalized a system of money politics, and forged key aspects of the developmental state model instituted by Park Chung-Hee in South Korea. Kishi’s life covered the arc of the Cold War in Asia, and symbolized the shift from imperial to post-imperial East Asia.