Ninagawa Torazo (蜷川虎三)
Torazo NINAGAWA (February 24, 1897 - February 27, 1981) was an economist and statistician.
He was a former Kyoto Prefectural Governor (1950 -1978.)
Student days - assistant professor and full professor days at Kyoto University
He was born in Fukagawa (Koto Ward) in Tokyo. After graduating from Tokyo Furitsu Number Three Middle School under the prewar education system (present Tokyo Metropolitan Ryogoku high school) and the (Japan) Imperial Fisheries Institute (present Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, he entered Kyoto Imperial University, Faculty of Economics. In 1927, he became an assistant professor at the same university. After studying in Germany, he took his doctorate on "Tokei Riyo ni okeru Kihon Mondai" (Basic Problems in Using Statistics), but he was promoted to full professor much later in 1942. He became dean of the Faculty of Economics in 1945, but resigned the next year of his own will, in order to share the blame for World War II.
Starting a new career as statesman, and serving as Kyoto Prefectural Governor
In 1948, he became the first Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, but came into conflict with Prime Minister Shigeru YOSHIDA over the small and medium enterprise policy and resigned from office in 1950. In the same year, he ran for and won the Kyoto gubernatorial election on the Japan Socialist Party ticket, also backed by Zen Kyoto Minshusensen Toitsu Kaigi (abbreviated as Minto; Congress of All Kyoto Democratic United Front), and thereafter he served as governor for seven consecutive terms over twenty-eight years in all. Also in the same year, the second ordinary election for the House of Councilors and Kyoto mayoral election were held, and Ikuo OYAMA and Gizo TAKAYAMA both of whom were recommended by Minto won the elections, respectively. Yet, Mayor Takayama began to shift to the conservative side later, which started a feud between Takayama and Minto lasting even after Takayama left his office and became President of Kyoto International Conference Center.
First half of Ninagawa's administration
Ninagawa's administration hung a banner reading 'Let's Make the Constitution Live in Our Lives' from Kyoto Prefectural Office building. Ninagawa kept acting from the standpoint of Protecting the Constitution also in the field of local government all along the line, such that, on the Constitution Memorial Day, he delivered his address standing before a Japanese folding screen with the Preface to the Constitution of Japan on its panels. His policies reflected this attitude.
Consider educational matters as an example. With his slogan 'Do not make them sad in their fifteen years old spring,' Ninagawa announced the small school district system and the sogo senbatsu entrance examination system (integrated selection system of applicants) for public senior high schools. With these systems, he sought to relieve children from the burden of jukensenso (entrance examination preparation war).
Besides, he firmly refused to carry out the Teacher Evaluation System for the reason that 'the system was intervention of government power in education in the prefecture.'
Also, he appropriated sufficient funds to implement a welfare policy that included creating 'a medical expenses subsidy system for the population aged 65 or more' which was a first for the nation. Furthermore, he established strict standards in antipollution measures, rejecting most expressway construction plans for the reason that 'expressways negatively impact the surrounding environment.
Worse still, it might also be used for military purposes.'
In addition, he employed a large number of blue-collar public servants and protected the union.
These policies would have been labeled typical 'progressiveness.'
In contrast, his industry promotion measures were quite 'conservative.'
First, he formulated an industry promotion plan independently for Kyoto.
Under the plan, he developed a mechanism to facilitate private companies' settlement in Kyoto with 'government, bureaucracy, academia, and business' backing each other up (which included easing of the terms and conditions for financing programs the prefecture provided and setting up of industrial parks.)
He also worked hard to protect and jump-start the local industry. He worked out the policy of 'rejecting construction of expressways but keeping on approving construction of community roads and industrial roads' and assigned construction works to local road building contractors.
Concerning agriculture and fishery, he opposed the rice acreage reduction promoted by the national government and worked out a unique price support system called 'Kyoto food control system' and an agriculture and fishery development plan. Accompanying such measures, he improved living conditions for the people involved in the primary industries, allowing them to live in peace. He also worked out measures to attract tourists to Kyoto and buy goods and services there, promoting the Kyoto brand across the country.
As stated above, his policy administration would be a compromise between conservative and reformist policies. As his operation policies worked and the nation concurrently experienced the high economic growth, the prefecture had ample tax revenues and hardly ever faced financial difficulties although it was a reformist local government (It fell to a fiscal reconstruction organization once due to a catastrophic flood in Yamashiro in 1956, but revived itself in 1962. Thereafter, the prefecture finances experienced a surplus for most years to come).
As a result, he gradually won support from parts of conservative-blocs and centrist-blocs such as medical associations and agricultural organizations. Accordingly, he won overwhelming victories during elections.
Latter half of Ninagawa's administration
The climate changed in the latter half of his administration. In those days, the Japan Socialist Party, to which Ninagawa once belonged, began to make blatant personal demands.
Ninagawa could not stand it and began to support another ruling party, 'the Japanese Communist Party.'
Accordingly, the Japanese Communist Party rapidly extended its influence throughout Kyoto; conversely, the Japan Socialist Party gradually lost its influence. In due course, the Japan Socialist Party made Ninagawa and the Japanese Communist Party an enemy. At the same time, Ninagawa's administration lost its balance and rapidly became inclined to be ideologically-charged.
In addition, the administration he was so proud of also encountered problems. Consider traffic and life policies as an example. Under the Ninagawa administration, mountainous regions and the Japan Sea side area were developed drastically; in contrast, the inner city area was mostly left untouched due to Ninagawa's intention to respect sentiment among urban residents who drove campaigns against development (Ninagawa's power base included many residents' groups in the urban districts). Owing to the situation, improvement of the infrastructure such as water supply and sewage systems and pavement of the roads in urban districts were delayed so badly that it was said: I became aware I was entering Kyoto when I saw the roads and sewage.
Also, educational matters and welfare policies began to suffer frequent criticisms that 'the educational policy of Ninagawa's administration did nothing but indulge and spoil students (by citing instances of decreased percentage of enrollment from prefectural senior high schools to the Kyoto University),' 'high-handed behaviors of teachers' unions inside and outside the schools are intolerable,' and 'his welfare policy is pork-barrel politics which waste tax money.'
The quality of the large number of public servants hired by the prefecture was also regarded as a problem, repeatedly questioned day and night by local media (The Kyoto Shimbun and the like).
In spite of these adverse conditions, the governor Ninagawa won overwhelming victories in the re-elections for the fifth and sixth terms through his high administrative abilities and trust which had been enhanced by fulfilling a great number of public commitments. Taking advantage of these victories, Ninagawa forwarded the administrative and financial reforms immediately and streamlined the prefectural administrative office. During this period, other local governments faced hard times, with reduced tax revenues due to the oil shock, but Ninagawa was able to survive this period with little difficulty by further advancing policies that involved inviting private companies to settle in Kyoto and attracting tourists.
Retirement from active service - death
In the election in 1974, Ninagawa fought an uphill battle for his seventh term against the opposing candidate (Kazutaka OHASHI, a former Japan Socialist Party member of House of Councilors) who was backed by the Liberal Democratic Party, the Komeito Party, the Democratic Socialist Party, and also a part of the Japan Socialist Party. Although Ninagawa narrowly won the re-election by a bare majority of 4000 votes, he felt his limits considering the uphill battle and his age (he was 78 year old at that time) and retired from the governorship in 1978. At the plenary meeting of the Kyoto prefectural assembly which was the last assembly for Ninagawa, Hiromu NONAKA, a member of the prefectural assembly, likened the meeting to "children hurling themselves at a yokozuna (grand champion of sumo wrestling)" and the session hall to "a lecture room of the professor Ninagawa" in his speech. In the subsequent Kyoto gubernatorial election in 1978, Toshimasa SUGIMURA, the candidate to succeed him was defeated by Yukio HAYASHIDA who was backed by the LDP, and the twenty-eight years of reformist government ended.
Thereafter, he spent the rest of his life free from care, supporting the Japanese Communist Party, and in March 1981, he died at the age of 81.
Because of his strong personality and his powerful administration, evaluation of his administration still remained polarized.
Some of the LDP and other parties criticized Ninagawa for his 'dictatorship and bringing a dark age' and for 'being blamed for having delayed the development of Kyoto excessively.'
It was certainly a fact that the above-mentioned educational standards, improvement of infrastructure, and quality of public servants deteriorated (especially in the latter half of the administration) and it took a long time to straighten out the mess.
Nevertheless, the LDP members approved the budget proposed by the governor Ninagawa throughout his terms and they frequently showed their admiration for the governor Ninagawa with their words and behaviors in the prefectural assembly hall, and the LDP left most of the conservative supporters to support Ninagawa for the reason that 'they preferred Kyoto distinct from other prefectures, even if Kyoto had no expressway' and 'they only need their leader to enrich their life both officially and personally whether the leader is reformist or conservative.'
The LDP might be blamed for its attitude and its way of working out its policy.
Needless to say, the Japanese Communist Party was in favor of the Ninagawa administration.
On the other hand, some of the Japanese Communist Party supporters grumbled 'the Ninagawa's educational policy went too far indeed and caused us some trouble.'
From that time on, the Japanese Communist Party never regained the reformist administration yet. The strongest reason among all was that the Japanese Communist Party could not break with the 'ghost' of Ninagawa and could not present a new vision.
He was a governor who left a profound impact on the present Kyoto prefecture for better or worse. In a sense, it might remain to be seen how Kyoto would develop and surpass the achievements accomplished in the Ninagawa era.
Ninagawa was popular among the Kyoto citizens and nicknamed '(Ninagawa no) Tora-san.'
Above-mentioned Hiromu NONAKA and Koichi TSUKAMOTO (Representative director of Wacoal Corporation), who was a business leader in Kyoto and the chairman of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry, wrote in their books and writings that Ninagawa was an attractive person even if they conflicted with each other in a political point of view.
He wrote a memoire called "Rakuyo ni hoyu" (Howl in Kyoto) (published by Asahi shinbunsha) ISBN 402254631X.