Famous Japan Leaders – Takeshi Kitano (a.k.a. Pete Takeshi), one of Japan’s “big three” TV comedians, a critically acclaimed art director and highly respected actor, says his “main job is not to be pigeonholed by the public.” He is a sculptor, writer, presenter, poet and essayist. A former Manjai artist who hosted the game show Slapstick
Japan’s second great consolidator, Toyotomi was an able military leader who ruled the country from 1584 until his death in 1598 (although he was never given the title of shogun due to his peasant origins). During his reign, he funded the construction of many castles and temples, banned non-samurai from bearing arms, banned travel, and crucified many Christians, including the 26 Martyrs of Japan.
Famous Japan Leaders
The founder of multinational electronics giant Panasonic, Konosuke Matsushita was a self-made entrepreneur who started in a narrow two-room house over a century ago. He had ¥100, three employees and only one product: an electric light socket. Today Panasonic is a global name. In 1979, the then 84-year-old started the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management to train future politicians and businessmen.
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On the night of December 14, 1702 (based on the old Japanese calendar), Oshi Kuranosuke led a group of 47 men.
(Masterless Samurai) Seeking revenge on a superior officer, they cause the death of their master. The famous revenge drama, said to embody the “essence of the samurai,” is often told in plays, novels, movies, and other media.
The undisputed queen of enka, Hibari Misora was a cultural icon whose music helped give hope to the public after WWII. He made his debut in 1948 at the age of 11 and recorded a total of 1,200 songs. Her final song “Kawa no Nagara Yo Ni” was voted the best Japanese song of all time in a poll conducted by NHK.
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At the age of 55, Ino Tadataka, a wealthy merchant, embarked on a 17-year exploration of Japan. The respected cartographer is said to have completed 3,736 days of coastal and inland surveying (a journey of about 34,913 km). His masterpiece, a map of the entire coast of Japan, remained unfinished after his death in 1818, but was completed three years later by his survey team.
The founder of the petroleum company Idemitsu Kosen, Saso Idemitsu was a patriotic businessman who was not afraid to take on the so-called “international oil cartel”. His crowning moment came in 1953 when he sent a huge tanker to Iran under the British-led embargo to buy oil. His bravery was appreciated by paying 30 percent less than the market price.
An entrepreneur, Soichiro Honda overcame many obstacles, including government opposition, to build one of the world’s largest automotive companies. A joker, he went against the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) when it tried to ban new car manufacturers in the country. Honda, the first Japanese company to produce automobiles in the United States, was very popular overseas.
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Earlier this season, 50-year-old Kazuyoshi Miura became the oldest competitive goalscorer in professional soccer history. Affectionately known as “King Cash”, he left school at the age of 15 to become a footballer in Brazil. He played for several clubs, including Pele’s former team Santos. He was also the first Japanese player to sign for an Italian club.
“It is wrong to think differently from ordinary people, but it is right to expect not to live like ordinary people.” A legendary samurai with great intellect, Yoshida Shoin was no ordinary man. Many of his students at his famous private school Shoga Sonjuku – including the heroic figure Takazuki Shinsaku and Japan’s first Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi – played key roles in the Meiji Restoration.
The eldest daughter of a wealthy flour miller, Michiko Shoda became the first commoner to marry into the royal family when she married Crown Prince Akihito in January 1959. Rumor has it that stress caused a nervous breakdown. Seen as a dutiful wife and a loving mother, she earned the respect of the Japanese people.
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Known as the “God of Manga” and the “Father of Anime,” Osamu Tezuka was a prolific artist and storyteller who created more than 700 works, including Black Jack, Kimba the White Lion, and the most famous Astro Boy. The man who introduced big-eyed characters to manga was able to do medicine. In 1965, Stanley Kubrick turned down an offer to be his art director
Known as the “people’s emperor,” Akihito has spent the past three decades trying to bring the royal family closer to the people. Unafraid of upsetting nationalists, he continued to deplore Japan’s actions during World War II, acknowledged his ancestral Korean roots, and in 1992 became the first Japanese monarch to visit mainland China. He was recently allowed to resign.
A man of principle who loved his country, Jiro Shirazu received a nation’s honor in December 1945. Commissioned to deliver a Christmas present to General Douglas MacArthur from Emperor Hirohito, he asked him to put it on the ground. Shirazu condemns the general’s lack of dignity and demands that he be placed on the table. MacArthur was not used to speaking like this, but was fully engaged.
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Yukichi Fukuzawa, founder of the newspaper Jiji Shinbo and Keio University (Japan’s first private university), was a progressive thinker who challenged the idea that all people had a fixed role in a hierarchical society. He encouraged people to think for themselves through his philosophy
(independence and self-respect), which was a revolutionary concept at the time. He is the face of the ¥10,000 note.
Described by Steven Spielberg as the “picture Shakespeare of our time”, Akira Kurosawa was one of the most influential directors of the 20th century. George Lucas borrowed ideas from his 1958 classic
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Japan’s longest-reigning emperor, Hirohito, presided over one of the most turbulent periods in modern Japanese history. For some historians, he was a radical warlord who escaped justice after World War II, while others see him as a powerless figure who warned that the attack on Pearl Harbor would be “self-destructive.” After the war Hirohito renounced his divinity and helped rebuild Japan’s diplomatic image abroad.
Shodoku Taishi, known as the “Father of Japanese Buddhism,” was appointed regent in 593 by his aunt, Empress Suiko. Influenced by Confucian principles, he wrote a 17-article constitution, established a central government, opened relations with China, and is said to be the first to coin the name Nihan. Some scholars, including Chubu University professor Oyama Seiichi, have cast doubt on the prince’s historicity.
The director of some of the most imaginative animated films ever made, Hayao Miyazaki has a godlike status in Japan. His most famous smash hits include:
Oxfam International Activists Wear Masks With The Faces Of G8 Leaders, From Left British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Seated, Us President Barack
– Highest grossing film in Japanese history. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2002, but the co-founder of Studio Ghibli did not attend the award in protest of the war in Iraq.
Seen as both a hero and a villain, Oda Nobunaga was so ruthless that he killed his maid after she dropped a bunch of fruit on his floor. Nobunaga was the first of Japan’s Great Three Unifiers, laying the foundation for Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Known as the “Demon Daimyo”, he was able to unify the majority of the fragmented country.
A patient and shrewd general who waited for the right moment to take control, Ieyasu was the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a dynasty that ruled Japan for more than 250 years. Along with Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ieyasu was one of the three great leaders who helped unify the country at the end of the Sengoku (Warring States) period. A master tactician and calculating on the battlefield, he was careful when forming and changing loyalties. He remained loyal to Nobunaga and ordered the execution (by forced seppuku) of his wife and son when they were accused of plotting against the ruthless warlord.
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Five years after Nobunaga was killed, Ieyasu joined Hideyoshi, who sent him to rule the lands in eastern Japan. After Hideyoshi’s death, civil war broke out and in 1600 Ieyasu’s forces defeated the Western army at the Battle of Sekigahara. Three years later he assumed the title of Shogun, then consolidated his power during the Siege of Osaka in 1615, destroying the remnants of the Toyotomi clan.
A baseball legend commonly known as an entrepreneur, Ichiro is Japan’s greatest sporting export. Playing for the Miami Marlins in July, the 43-year-old outfielder surpassed Panamanian “batting champion” Rod Carey as the record holder for hits by a foreigner in the major leagues. Remarkably, he made his MLB debut at just 27 years old. Before moving to America, Ichiro played Oryx Blue Wave in Japan, where he recorded.
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