Issue #100 The Imperial Ghost in the Neoliberal Machine (Figuring the CIA)

The Imperial Ghost in the Neoliberal Machine (Figuring the CIA)

Koichiro Osaka

The Sunshine 60 building, built in 1978, is a 60-story, mixed-use skyscraper located in Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest in Asia. Photo: Kakidai/CC BY-SA 3.0

Issue #100
May 2019

Sunshine 60—a soaring sixty-story mega complex in the entertainment district of Ikebukuro, Tokyo—was the tallest skyscraper in Asia at the time of its completion in 1978.

From the day its doors opened, businesspeople began complaining about peculiar visions and sounds. Shoppers reported fleeting apparitions or disembodied faces wafting down the hallways and into secluded areas such as dressing rooms or bathrooms. People traded tales of sudden, unexplained gusts of chilled air, and instances of feeling pushed or trapped in physical encounters with invisible entities. Visitors heard unintelligible whispers in their ears. Store clerks grew accustomed to hearing haunting moans, the closing of iron gates, or the groan of hangman’s ropes. At the start of their mornings, they would find items disorganized on the shelves or objects toppled from where they’d been placed the night before.

Locals knew about the Sugamo Prison, which had originally stood on the site. Until the end of World War II, the former edifice was a penitentiary that detained and executed inmates charged with “ideological” offenses: from communist intellectuals and political agitators, to leaders of occult or religious sects. As the war came to an end in 1945, the prison was seized by the Allied forces—flipping the coin to the other side. The detention center was transformed into a jail for top military and government officials including Hideki Tojo, wartime Prime Minister and general of the Imperial Japanese Army.

A dark shadow lurks in the foundations of the bright, lively shopping mall at Sunshine 60. The reverberating voices of happy children and families on vacation dissipate into the vacuum of history, created by the ghost of an ill-fated epoch. Although it was built to reflect pride in a successful economy (with the best technology the late 1970s could offer), the mall’s structure ironically mirrors the violent totalitarianism of its carceral past. Previous machinations of mass control remain corporeally present in the form of this building, and are merely camouflaged in alternative modes of manipulation while they continue to shift and coerce under new terms of power. Consumerism’s salute to imperialism!

Suspected war criminals were detained at Sugamo Prison until the end of 1948. Sixty Japanese men were sentenced to death, all of whom were executed behind the iron door of the gallows cell No. 13.1

An urban myth portends that the number 60 in the building’s name alludes to this very fact: that, in effect, this gigantic monolith serves as a gravestone commemorating the souls of executed officials whose ashes never returned home. Sunshine 60 then, with its cheerful name also evoking a resurgence of the rising sun, is arguably the largest war monument ever built—a sixty-story prayer for the remembrance and continuation of Japanese imperialism. The building embodies silent rage and exemplifies a desire for vengeance. At the same time, its structure deceptively reinforces the ethnic identity and fascistic machinery that constitute a new capitalist state.

Cartoon by Fujiki Fumio from his manga sketchbook, 1948-49. Collection Fujiki Fumio, 2004.

Sugamo University

For those who survived sentencing and execution, living at Sugamo Prison was perhaps not as dreadful as one might imagine. Some inmates who lived to see 1949 referred to their experience of this period as attending “Sugamo University,” because of the courses offered in a variety of subjects including English, accounting, auto mechanics, law, art, and poetry. According to a history of “Art and Exchange at Sugamo Prison” from 1945–52, the prison’s cultural atmosphere radically altered between January ’49 and June 1950. At that point, “activities that were frowned upon earlier—such as making drawings and circulating poems—started to be encouraged and sanctioned, and an art shop, poetry group, and prisoner newspaper were established.”2 Japanese meals were prepared using vegetables grown within the compound. On occasion, former Prime Minister Tojo served food to all the other Class A war criminals. During and immediately after WWII, prisoners at Sugamo performed hard labor and underwent regular rectal exams. After the executions of 1948, conditions lightened to a degree so dramatic that remaining prisoners enjoyed their “accommodations.”

The majority of prisoners stayed at Sugamo for two years and eight months—from April 29, 1946, the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, when the indictment for the Tokyo Tribunal was presented, until December 23, 1948, succeeding Emperor Akihito’s birthday. Seven of the executions took place on that date. But not all criminals were executed. In fact, nineteen Class A prisoners walked free the following day. Their cases were never brought to prosecution, and were simply dropped without trial.

As the Cold War intensified and the Chinese Communist Party rose as a dominant power, US policy toward Japan changed drastically. The United States government altered its tactics: first, they pledged to demilitarize and democratize the country, then shifted gears to turn Japan into an anti-communist stronghold in Asia. This constituted a shift from New Deal idealism to Cold War realism. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was established in 1947, and its agents quickly began covert operations around the world. The three-year incarceration of war criminals at Sugamo Prison during the Tokyo Tribunal (the Nuremberg Tribunals took less than a year by comparison) helped both the prisoners and the US to negotiate future plans, and to become acquainted with one another. During these three years, the CIA secretly assessed potential “strong men” who could take the lead in a postwar, anti-communist, pro-American Japan.

Though initially considered a dubious choice given his opportunistic character, the CIA nonetheless deemed Nobusuke Kishi one of the best candidates for these so-called “strong men.” During the war, Kishi was the Minister of Industry and Commerce under the Tojo administration, running a Japanese puppet state in Manchuria, Northeast China. A CIA file on Kishi, declassified in 2005, notes: “Strongly anti-Communist, Kishi has been a leading champion of the present regime on Taiwan, although he has also come to recognize the necessity of improved relations between Japan and China.”3 But this is somewhat of understatement. The file reveals only the least of the problems.

For Kishi, Manchuria was a field for necropolitical experimentation.4 He tested his own economic model in the region and on the backs of forced Chinese and Korean laborers, borrowing from the labor efficiency of Taylorism, the German policy of industrial cartels, and Soviet-style, state-sponsored industrial development. Under Kishi’s watch, an enormous amount of opium flooded the region from poppy plantations in Mongolia and Manchuria itself, and was also smuggled in from Persia. According to the study Chimera: A Portrait of Manchukuo (1993) by Shinichi Muromachi, even Kishi’s subordinates later testified that Manchuria was akin to a piece of “giant machinery, producing secret funds for the Kanto Army … mainly through the opium trade.”5 Kishi’s opium profits provided a seemingly infinite source of funds for the army’s strategic development, and fueled aggressive invasions and atrocities across the region.6

Yoshio Kodama, another contender for the “strong man” position, was deeply involved in drug trafficking operations in Shanghai. A war profiteer, smuggler, and underground crime boss, he was already notorious at age eighteen for being a radical ultranationalist. He had been arrested for presenting a petition to Emperor Hirohito, and then imprisoned for a suspected assassination plot (the League of Blood Incident, 1932). During the war, he established a purchasing agency for the Japanese Navy Air Force which sold heroin from Japan in exchange for tungsten, radium, and other strategic materials for weapons manufacturing. In effect, Kodama monopolized the weapons market through his acquaintances in the military government. The CIA file on Kodama notes:

This agency, later named the Kodama Kikan (Kodama Organ), involved considerable black market procurement as well as alleged intelligence responsibilities, and reportedly enabled [sic] Kodama to amass a huge personal fortune through wartime trade with both the Nationalists and the Communists.7

His “fortune” was worth roughly $175 million.8

All of this was made possible for Kodama through the assistance of Ryoichi Sasakawa, a “philanthropist” for war efforts, and founder of the Patriotic Masses Party (Kokusui-taishu-to)—an organization involved in several political assassinations during the 1930s. At that time Kodama was a young member of the Party’s General Staff. Sasakawa once flew a squadron bomber to meet Benito Mussolini in Rome, where he proclaimed himself the “perfect fascist and dictator.”9 Already a popular figure appearing in nationwide broadcasts, Sasakawa cheered on the home front masses, and visited prisons in Manchuria to encourage them. After Kodama was prosecuted for propagating the war and hostility against the US, he stayed at Sugamo until the Class A charges were dropped in 1948.

Matsutaro Shoriki, code name “Podam,” is confirmed to have been a CIA agent, as evidenced by a 474-page CIA file of his activities (also declassified in 2005). As the head of the political police during the war, and later a member of the Upper House of Parliament and chief of the Information Department of the Interior Ministry, he was responsible for hunting down and crushing communists, socialists, labor unions, and so forth, and for developing ideological warfare and propaganda. In 1936, he assisted in efforts to merge the news agencies into one governmental bureau, which controlled the production of state propaganda and the dissemination of censored foreign news. The CIA file on Shoriki notes:

According to OSS report, Shoriki became notorious for his activities when chief of the secretariat of the Metropolitan Police, Tokyo, by his ruthless treatment of political thought causes and by ordering raids on universities and colleges. He was the first senior police official to institute such raids on educational institutions.10

This file initially evaluates his character as follows: “subject known to be reliable, but shrewd; limited use by CIA as cutout.” But later Shoriki formed a close partnership with the Agency, pouring all the resources and powers he acquired through government positions into his new role after the war, and propagating American policies with ambition and greed for his new business.11 Shoriki stayed at Sugamo for less than two years, and was released in 1947.

Sponsored by the CIA, Kishi went to work building a conservative hegemony in Japanese politics. He ascended to the position of Prime Minister (1957–60)—followed by his brother (1964–72) and his grandson (2006–2007, 2012–present)—and remained in power behind the scenes until his death in 1987. Kodama became the nation’s number one power broker, Yakuza boss, and fixer, dealing chiefly with underground business and politics. Sasakawa established legalized gambling and motor-boat racing, and became “the world’s richest fascist,”[1] known for his philanthropic empire (via the Sasakawa Foundation, for one example). The state propaganda officer Shoriki transformed into a media mogul, launching Japan’s first private TV network and popular baseball team. Yomiuri newspaper—the main mouthpiece for the military dictatorship during the war—gained the nation’s highest readership while openly distributing nationalistic and pro-American agendas. Together, they laid the foundation of a new, “democratic” Japan.

These four figures had one firm belief in common. They were all imperialists, and effectively anti-communists, who were immensely loyal to the Emperor. Some believe that they were double agents working to advance both American interests and their imperialist fantasies. Kishi, Kodama, Sasakawa, and Shoriki lived in the same cell before their mysterious release. Their fraternity was formed in the close quarters of Sugamo Prison and continued for the rest of their lives.

There is a reason why Japan has remained conservative to this day.

It was designed to be so.

But by whom?

Abandoned nationalist campaign cars worn out after decades of intense use. In the foreground, a first generation model of Toyota’s coaster (1969-82).

The CIA in Japan

“We ran Japan during the occupation, and we ran it in a different way in these years after the occupation,” said the CIA’s Horace Feldman, who served as station chief in Tokyo. “General (Douglas) MacArthur had his ways. We had ours.”12

Since the 1950s, the CIA’s clandestine operations have transformed economic policies, sovereign histories, principles of democracy, and global perceptions, irrevocably altering the world’s cultural and political landscape. But what’s worse in Japan’s case is that the CIA’s involvement largely undermined the country’s international accountability to war responsibilities, the claims to some of which have been dropped entirely through negotiations with the US. MacArthur’s seven-year occupation provided ample resources for the new CIA agents, who further infiltrated the minds of existing political players, working hand-in-hand to fulfill their agenda. High-profile politicians and businessmen implemented anti-communist policies in Japan, and built a strategic network through cold cash, where briberies were the chosen form of contracts.

After his release in 1948, Kishi immediately resumed his political activities. He became the secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) upon its formation in 1955, and set about laying the foundations of the LDP’s policies, which have been passed down through his grandson’s cabinet today: pro-American in diplomatic relations, while promoting free trade and constitutional reform. Anti-communism was Kishi’s firm ideological belief, and he worked with US diplomats to promote the strategic importance of funding for their nationalist agendas—to prevent the spread of communism in Asia.

Kishi became Prime Minister in 1957, only eight years after his release from Sugamo Prison. His most controversial act was the passing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. This was met with a storm of public protests, with more than 100,000 young people taking to the streets each day. The police cracked down on the student demonstrators, making it the most violent protest in Japanese modern history. The main point of contention was that the treaty continued to allow US military bases on Japanese soil, in addition to allowing further concessions to the US government. The students’ anger was directed toward Kishi himself, for his fascistic and repressive manners of thought control, which reminded them of the recent war period. According to Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA:

President (Dwight D.) Eisenhower himself decided that Japanese political support for the security and American financial support for Kishi were one and the same. He authorized a series of CIA payoffs to key members of the LDP. Politicians unwitting of the CIA’s role were told that the money came from the titans of corporate America.13

The Japanese government was preparing to host Eisenhower, and Kishi surmised that police forces alone could not pacify the public during the Presidential visit. Consequently, he organized the “Welcome-Ike Executive Committee” and asked Kodama—the nation’s number-one gang fixer—to mobilize Yakuza and right-wing groups and seize the opposition jointly with police forces. This “reverse course” to democratization—bringing war criminals back to official state power, seeing them vent their ideological egos and violently oppress young liberals—is something to be remembered, and also had the effect of making later anti-government movements almost unfathomable.

At the time, nationalist campaigns were organized with the official and financial backing of the CIA-led government. The modern revamp and a new fashion were made at this period. Today, products of the CIA’s investment can still be found in Tokyo’s streets: a procession of black painted vans with the Imperial crest of the chrysanthemum, or the Rising Sun, broadcast military marches, and so on. This fabrication of the return of modern nationalism in Japan is ironic, because the nationalists were acting “for their country,” but without knowing that they are essentially hired by the CIA to crush communists, on behalf of the US.

Kishi was perhaps the most reactionary of all prime ministers in postwar Japan, taking full advantage of this tumultuous and confused period. In the short term of only three years, he tried to revise the Police Duties Execution Act to maximize the power of the police authorities, to restore Empire Day to the calendar, to instill “moral” lessons and the mandatory singing of the national anthem in the school—all template parameters for nationalist politicians. Kishi backed up numerous organizations of right-wing causes including Korea’s Unification Church, the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League, the Moral Re-Armament Movement, and served as an adviser for the association of war veterans (Nihon Goyu Renmei) and of the national fascists (Sokoku-boei Doshi-kai).

Politics and media were two sides of the same coin. While the LDP contracted with Dentsu (Japan’s largest advertising and public relations agency) for their media campaigns, Shoriki, at the age of sixty-two, embarked on a new plan: establishing the first private TV company and nationwide communication network in Japan. Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, a key proponent of “Voice of America,” identified television broadcasting in Japan as an important weapon of psychological warfare in the battle against communism, particularly after the breakout of Korean War in 1950. The US subsequently agreed to cooperate under the project codename KMCASHIER.14 Upon his dramatic debut as a TV licensing contender, Shoriki established Nippon TV in 1952.

With the support of the CIA, Shoriki geared his new TV venture toward favorable treatment and support for nuclear energy through an orchestrated campaign across his media empire. In 1955, the touring exhibition Atoms for Peace was installed in Tokyo, enlisting Japanese artists to re-contextualizing information on “benign” atomic applications in business, cosmetics, industry and medicine to suit the local culture, and consequently “to play down or conceal the original source of this material.”15 The exhibition travelled to Hiroshima in 1956. Tessa Morris-Suzuki adds in her essay, “The CIA and the Japanese media: a cautionary tale,” that “the exhibition was just one of a litany of clandestine connections between Japan’s leading media magnate and the CIA.”16 Shoriki’s TV company also broadcasted Walt Disney’s educational video Our Friend the Atom (1957) to Japanese households in an effort to change perception about the use of nuclear energy and to erase the public sentiment against the atomic bombs used to devastating effect in Japan itself, as well as subsequent US nuclear weapons testing at the Bikini Islands.

Known as the “father of nuclear energy,” Shoriki was also the first chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, which codified Japan’s intention to utilize atomic energy for the improvement of living standards and social welfare. In 1957, he joined the first Kishi cabinet as chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, and around the same time, the Japanese government entered into a contract to purchase twenty nuclear reactors from the US. After observing the successful public compliance with the nuclear policy,17 the Shoriki-LDP-CIA faction made a political decision which eventually led to the installation of fifty-nine nuclear power plants across the nation. This corrupted relationship within the faction illustrates the root cause of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Accident, in which the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) were held liable for negligence of maintenance.

Still from Walt Disney’s educational video, Our Friend the Atom (1957).

The CIA and the Pentagon provided funds to the LDP, amounting to millions of dollars. This effectively allowed for an unhindered cash flow for at least fifteen years from the 1950s to the early ’70s under four American presidents—Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon—and helped consolidate the one-party rule known as the “1955 System.” In this extended period until 1993, the LDP was the overwhelmingly dominant political party in Japan, where Kishi remained influential behind the scenes throughout his life. The now-infamous “Lockheed scandal,” a global political controversy in connection with the 1976 sale of F‐104 fighter planes and L-1011 TriStar airliners, reveals only the tip of the iceberg.

Lurking in the background was Kodama, who began to pour part of his fortune into the careers of Japan’s most conservative politicians. Through this financial funneling he became a key member of a CIA operation that helped bring the ultra-conservative set to power. Kodama’s inconspicuous presence was interlinked and intertwined in the lives of these more public personalities; he quietly provided muscle and advanced illegal tactics to further usurp power for the ultranationalists under his protection.

The Moral Turn

Imperialists had little problem joining the US camp and claiming themselves anti-communist; their concern was the emotional barriers and obstacles in international diplomacy due to resentment toward Japanese war crimes. The Moral Re-Armament movement (MRA) became a magnet for these war criminals, including Kishi and Sasagawa. Initially a Christian evangelical reform movement promoting public confession and repentance, MRA shifted its focus from a spiritual movement to a socio-political one, promoting “industrial harmony” as a rapprochement between capital and labor. These ideas materialized in economic and ethical agendas, and worked favorably for the benefit of the former Sugamo inmates.

Philanthropist Sasakawa was a key figure in the Japanese MRA. Before the war, he personally met Mussolini to echo Frank Buchman’s program “to promote plans for a Japan-US-Britain-Nazi Germany alliance against the Soviet Union” (MRA had affinity with German Nazis).18 Sakawa’s friendship with German economist and President of the Reichsbank Hjalmar Schacht was seen as a consummate advantage, given the latter’s experience in fascist economic planning and Germany’s economic recovery from hyperinflation.

MRA was known for its ancillary role in the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952, precursor to the EU, and developed increasing influence in Africa and Asia that needed facilitation for independence through the reconciliation of conflicting groups. As soon as he was released from prison, Kishi joined the movement and established himself with the main CIA-controlled power brokers, quickly forming a Japanese faction of this right-wing cult. Through MRA, Kishi spent time with Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman, and deepened his relationships with other political leaders to align with the Wall Street-centered economic operation. The MRA’s musical, The Vanishing Island (1955), which toured to Taiwan and Manila, also paved the way for Kishi’s visits to promote “reconciliation.”19

MRA was an anti-communist initiative that proved immensely effective amongst business leaders. The red purge in the Japanese corporate sector was already taking place during the US occupation from 1949 to 1951, as a series of arbitrary layoffs for a variety of accusations levied to unilaterally label people “Red”—including Japanese Communist Party members, socialists, and labor union activists. The executive ordinance by Yoshida Shigeru in 1949, then Japanese Prime Minister, stipulates the disbandment of “undemocratic” organizations. As a result of this, “in the ‘corporate restructuring’ at Toshiba in July 1949, some 4,581 workers, including 202 Communist Party members, were laid off.”20

Konosuke Matsushita, Founder of Panasonic, was also introduced to MRA in order to “protect” his company from the communist menace. Decades later, in the 1980s, the graduate school he established, the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, became a breeding ground for neoliberal thinkers and pro-American conservatives with fanatic market fundamentalism. They suppressed communist unionists in different ways: by advocating for Yuaikai, an organization with Christian leanings meant to benefit workers’ welfare. The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) was also formed as a counter structure to the communist unions. This movement endorsed the ethos of “industrial harmony” through labor efficiency. The Prime Minister at the time was an ardent member of MRA too, and along with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, instilled a neoliberal ideology and policy model. In corporate culture, MRA promoted self-empowerment programs based on utilitarian philosophies and enhanced business ethics, fostering a consensus for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Japan’s MRA is located at the headquarters of the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), and the secretariat of the Trilateral Commission, which represented the Rockefellers’ interests. John D. Rockefeller III, known for his philanthropic efforts for the Asian Cultural Council, the Japan Society, and so on, went along on several diplomatic trips to Japan in the late 1950s. On such occasions, Rockefeller was invited to Kishi’s home and negotiated with Japanese business leaders from a close position. With the active support from the US State Department, the CIA began to formulate a host of Rockefeller-initiated operations in Japan, committed to a policy of austerity and limited trade. The MRA-JCIE functioned as a central platform for the CIA’s programs, facilitating exchange programs for elite politicians and businesspeople to conduct operations in the name of “civil diplomacy.”

The Rockefellers were deeply involved in this picture. If there is any reason why they open an intervention into Japan, it was their commitment to experimenting with a zero-growth austerity plan. These commitments were spelled out in the Limits to Growth and Eugenicist programs of the Club of Rome, which were both modeled after Schacht’s economic programs for Nazi Germany.21 David Rockefeller, who penned a senior thesis entitled Destitution through Fabian Eyes (1936), was embedded in the center of this plan.

From the press release “The 50th Anniversary of Sunshine City Inc. Special Campaign: Free Entry to Observation Deck for Children Under 12,” Sunshine City, Inc., September 30, 2016.

The Black Monolith

According to the corporate profile of Sunshine City, Inc., the estate development following the withdrawal of the nationally-owned property (formerly Tokyo Detention Center) operated primarily to regenerate Ikebukuro as Tokyo’s designated suburban center. The project has, according to the Sunshine City corporation, transformed the area into “a bright and vibrant city, and the Sunshine 60 Street has been buzzing with its full commercial function.”22 The complex is held up as the first example of the Private Sector Initiative—the expansion of market principles in the field of social infrastructure—a large scale development, which anticipated a pivotal shift to the neoliberal economy. Sunshine City houses numerous corporate offices and restaurants, an observation deck—as well as a VR observation deck—children’s facilities, amusement parks, an aquarium, a planetarium, a theater, and convention halls. It also hosts a Cultural Center, and an Ancient Orient Museum.

The main stakeholder is Mitsubishi Estate, the real estate company that purchased the Rockefeller Center in New York in 1989, and a spin-off of the century-old Mitsubishi Group historically born out of military demand, with close guidance by the government. The list includes Mitsubishi-UFJ Bank, Credit Saison and its business partner Mizuho Bank, and Toshiba.23

The mediator of the development project was Seiji Tsutsumi, businessman, poet, and former head of the Saison Group retail chain. Tsutsumi facilitated talks for relocating the detention center, and recruited project members and investors at corporate levels. After relocation was confirmed, he received a phone call from Kodama that he wished to visit the site before demolishing the prison. Kodama appeared with a large bouquet and a bunch of thick incense sticks. Walking around the site, he placed the bouquet where Tojo ended his life, lit the incense and held his palms together for a long time.24

Sugamo prisoners were imperialists to the core. They were reluctant to be of service to the CIA simply for the purposes of propaganda, and intended to use the CIA for their own real-world projects or imperialist fantasies.

Kishi pursued a tightly-controlled economic model, which effectively resonated with David Rockefeller’s Wall Street-centered initiative, cabled to Chase Manhattan headquarters. Sasakawa followed the Rockefeller’s strategies of building a philanthropic empire. Shoriki’s nationalist and profit-seeking propaganda was technically used for the CIA’s pro-American campaign. But as long as it served a function for both ends, it didn’t matter if his true intention was for their country, his own profit, or for the emperor.

Neoliberalism shares characteristics with the wildest dreams of imperialists and reactionary spiritual movements: a constant push for labor efficiency, cultish ethics, covert, intrusive media tactics deployed for total governance—all accomplished on the premise of a systematic lie. All of this is akin—politically, economically, socially and unfortunately also individually—to fascism. Friedrich Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom from 1940 to ’43. If this text is a conceptual precursor to neoliberalism, then it was indeed invented during the last days of fascism.

When a warrant was issued for Kishi’s arrest as an alleged war criminal, an old teacher from his local province sent him a tanka poem:

To grieve is the loss, not of life but of honor:
Your name that lasts for eternity.25

This message translates to a directive: kill yourself. Kishi’s reply:

To inherit is the story, not of honor but of
Righteousness in the act of war.26

So he lived on. And instead of a story, he devised yet another economic model to leave behind. And it is just as fraudulent as his story of war.

In a 2004 history of the building, one year before the CIA documents on Sugamo’s ex-prisoners were declassified, another kind of story was relayed: “A well-established neighborhood myth associated with this building claims that every year, on the anniversary of the Class A executions, a ghost in military uniform is seen on the 60th floor.”

Aside from the imperial ghosts in the neoliberal machine, there is just one rock on site to commemorate the prison. Its engraving reads: “pray for eternal peace.”

Sunshine 60—this monolithic, divisive, monument to neoliberal posturing—is still erect and in place today.


The gallows, or cell No. 13, were located away from the prison itself, in what is now a public park adjacent to Sunshine 60. A total of sixty criminals were executed (fifty-three Class B and C criminals and seven Class A criminals). All were hung at cell No. 13, except for one who was shot at a United States Army base outside Tokyo. For the list of fifty-three executed criminals, see John L. Ginn, Sugamo Prison, Tokyo: An Account of the Trial and Sentencing of Japanese War Criminals in 1948, by a U.S. Participant (McFarland & Company, 1992), 192–93.


Bill Barrette, “Art and Exchange at Sugamo Prison, 1945–52: Visual Communication in American-occupied Japan,” PRI Occasional Paper, no. 33 (October 2004) .


See .


See Mark Driscoll, Absolute Erotic: The Living, Dead, and Undead in Japan’s Imperialism (Duke University Press, 2010).


Shinichi Yamamuro, Kimera—Manshukokuno Shozo (Manchuria under Japanese Dominion) (Chuokoron Shinsha, 2004), Appendix, Q13.


Yamamuro, Kimera—Manshukokuno Shozo.


See .


Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Anchor Books, 2007), 116.


See .


See .


See .


Weiner, Legacy of Ashes, 121.


Weiner, Legacy of Ashes, 120.


See .


For a 1955 US Newsreel on the Atoms for Peace exhibition, see .


Tessa Morris-Suzuki, “The CIA and the Japanese Media: A Cautionary Tale,” John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations (blog), September 17, 2014 .


Richard Krooth, Morris Edelson, and Hiroshi Fukurai, Nuclear Tsunami: The Japanese Government and America’s Role in the Fukushima Disaster (Lexington Books, 2015), 18.


“Japan’s No.1 Traitor: The Black Heart of Takeo Fukuda, Part II,” Executive Intelligence Review 3, no. 48 (November 29, 1976), 47.


Asia Center Odawara, “40 Shunen Kinen: Sengo-no Nihon-to MRA-no Kiseki” (The Fortieth Anniversary: The Trajectory of the MRA and Postwar Japan) (Foundation MRA House, 2003), 26. Translated by the author.


John W. Dower and Hirata Tetsuo, “Japan’s Red Purge: Lessons from a Saga of Suppression of Free Speech and Thought,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 5, no. 7 (July 3, 2007), 4.


“Japan’s No.1 Traitor,” 50–51.


“Corporate Profile: Sunshine City,” 2 .


“Corporate Profile: Sunshine City,” 18.


Takashi Tsujii, Jojo-to Toso: Tsujii Takashi + Tsutsumi Seiji Kaikoroku (Lyrics and Struggles: Memoir by Takashi Tsujii + Seiji Tsutsumi) (Chuko-bunko, 2012, ss. Ikebukuro Sunshine City). Translated by the author.


Futatunaki inochini-kaete oshikeru-wa /chitoseni kuchinu Nanite kosoare.” Translated by the author.


Nanikaete kono-miikusano tadashisa-wo / raise-mademo katari-nokosan.” Translated by author.

Colonialism & Imperialism
Ghosts & Spirits, Neoliberalism, Police & Prisons, Cold War, Japan
Return to Issue #100

With assistance from Marika Constantino, this text was written on the occasion of the exhibition “The Imperial Ghost in the Neoliberal Machine (Figuring the CIA),” on view at e-flux in New York through June 8, 2019. The author pays tribute to artist Akira Takayama whose practice references Sunshine 60.

Koichiro Osaka is a curator, writer, producer, and the founding director of Asakusa, a forty-square-meter exhibition venue committed to advancing curatorial collaboration and practices.

Marika Constantino is an artist, writer, researcher, and curator based in the Philippines.


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