Shintaro Ishihara (石原 慎太郎; born 1932), an outspoken Japanese nationalist, populist, and current governor of Tokyo, was born in Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. After winning Japan's most prestigious literary prize when he was a 23-year-old college student, he and his now deceased brother, who was Japan's most popular movie star, became the center of a youth-oriented cult. Ishihara has stayed in the public limelight since then.
In the early 1960s, he concentrated on writing, including plays, novels, and a musical version of Treasure Island. He was involved in directing, ran a theater company, traveled to the North Pole, raced his own yacht, and crossed South America on a motorcycle.
He entered politics in 1965 via the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), but was often critical of it. In 1973, he joined with thirty other LDP lawmakers in the anti-communist Seirankai, or Blue Storm Group; the group gained notoriety in the media for sealing a pledge of unity in their own blood.
In 1989, Ishihara came to the attention of the West through his book, A Japan That Can Say No, co-authored with Sony chairman Morita Akio. The book called on his fellow countrymen to stand up to the US. He dropped out of national politics in 1995.
In 1999, he ran on an independent platform and was elected governor of Tokyo. Since then he has undertaken a number of bold and popular moves at the metropolitan government level, such as imposing a new tax on banks' gross profits and holding up a bottle of diesel soot as he restricted the operation of diesel-powered vehicles. At the same time, he has gained notoriety for statements referring to Tokyo-based Chinese and Koreans sangokujin (三国人), an offensive term literally meaning "third-country person." He does, however, say exactly what he thinks, and that is a rarity in present-day Japanese politics.