Few figures in postwar Japanese history have been as controversial as Sasakawa Ryoichi (1899-1995). His critics focus on his prewar activity as an ultra-nationalist with shady business dealings on the Asian continent and his postwar career as a political fixer with alleged gangster connections, reliant on motorboat gambling profits to build an empire of self-serving philanthropy. Sasakawa's equally vociferous partisans, meanwhile, present him as a man who through hard work, remarkable energy, and abiding principle managed to rise above the limitations of his place and time to become a committed internationalist and a "warrior for peace," fully deserving of the Nobel Prize. This volume allows Sasakawa to speak for himself at a pivotal midpoint in his very long life: when he was incarcerated in Sugamo Prison as a suspected Class A war criminal. He would be released more than three years later, unindicted, having kept a meticulous record of his thoughts and experiences as a prisoner, both in a daily diary for the first year and through numerous letters to friends and relatives, here translated into English for the first time.
This testimony by Sasakawa may not settle the controversies over the person and his legacy, but it offers precious insights into the complexities and personalities of Saskawa's Tokyo Trial, life in Sugamo Prison during the trial, and the intriguing personality of Sasakawa himself. It provides a unique perspective on Japan in the years when the nation, in the words of historian John Dower, found itself "embracing defeat."
Sasakawa Ryoichi (1899-1995) founded what is now known as the Nippon Foundation, a philanthropic body that is Japan's largest charitable organization. Ken Hijino earned his doctorate in Japanese politics from the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge. John Swenson-Wright is the Fuji Bank University Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies and a fellow of Darwin College, University of Cambridge.