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Ishihara Shintaro, the former Tokyo governor who first became known as the chronicler of the “Sun Tribe,” privileged kids living lives of leisure and license amidst the poverty of postwar Japan, has died aged 89. The cause of death was given as pancreatic cancer.

Ishihara’s 1955 award-winning novel “Season of the Sun” was the basis for the 1956 Nakahira Ko film “Crazed Fruit” that launched the “Sun Tribe” boom. Ishihara scripted the film and both he and younger brother Ishihara Yujiro appeared in it. Yujiro became a major star, beginning with his early “Sun Tribe” films for the Nikkatsu studio, as well as a hit-spinning singer.

Born in 1932 in Kobe, Ishihara Shintaro was raised in upper-middle-class wealth – his father was a prosperous shipping executive – and graduated from elite Hitosubashi University in 1955. Propelled by his Sun Tribe success, he directed, acted in and produced films, though he became better known in Japan as a conservative politician following his election to the upper house of parliament in 1968.

Ishihara served as Tokyo governor from 1999 to 2012, winning reelection three times despite his extreme nationalist views and controversial statements. In an April 2000 speech he used the slur “sangokujin” (“third-country people”), once used to derogatorily to refer to Koreans and Taiwanese in Japan, but survived calls for his resignation.

He was a holocaust denier who described the Rape Of Nanking, a 1937 siege and massacre by Japanese soldiers, as a fiction. He went on to back the 2007 film “The Truth About Nanjing.”

Ishihara also co-authored a book with Sony founder Morita Akio urging Japanese to standup to Americans.

He did not direct his ire only at foreigners, however. Following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that resulted in nearly 20,000 deaths, Ishihara said that it was “punishment from heaven” for the greed of the Japanese people.

Ishihara’s most recent film credit was as executive producer, scriptwriter and actor in “Aokigahara,” a 2012 film set in Japan’s famed “suicide forest.”