Born Kiyoharu Matsumoto in Kokura (now Kokura Kita Ward, Kitakysh City), Fukuoka Prefecture, on the island of Kyushu in Japan in 1909, he later adopted the pen name of Seich Matsumoto. A product of humble origins, he was his parents’ only child. Following his graduation from elementary school, Matsumoto found employment at a utility company. As an adult he designed layouts for the Asahi Shinbun newspaper in Kyushu. His work in the advertising department was interrupted by service in World War II. A medical corpsman, Matsumoto spent much of the war in Korea. He resumed work at Asahi Shinbun after the war, transferring to the publication’s Tokyo office in 1950.
Though Matsumoto attended neither secondary school nor university, he was well read. As a rebellious teenager, he read banned revolutionary texts as part of a political protest. This act so enraged Matsumoto’s father that he destroyed his son’s collection of literature. Undeterred, the young Matsumoto sought award-winning works of fiction and studied them intently. His official foray into literature occurred in 1950 when Shukan Asahi magazine hosted a fiction contest. He submitted his short story “Saig satsu” (Saig’s currency) and placed third in the competition. With three generations dependent on him (he supported his parents as well as his wife and children), Matsumoto welcomed the prize money. His modest success and the encouragement of fellow writers...
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