Hashimoto's party 'faces extinction,' some media say

TOKYO —

Silence and politics don’t mix. Politics is speech – perpetual, ceaseless speech. Small wonder if the tongue slips, or if politicians blurt out more than is good for them. The latest casualty is Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) co-leader and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

Wartime “comfort women” – aka sex slaves – are a particularly delicate issue, with bitter feelings simmering internationally to this day. No matter. Addressing a press conference on May 13 at Osaka City Hall, Hashimoto declared, “Under a rain of bullets, their lives on the line, brave soldiers, their nerves strained to the limit, needed their relaxation. Everyone understands that a comfort woman system was necessary.”

Everyone? He was soon to learn, from the uproar that followed, that by no means everyone understands things as he does.

But he was not done yet. That same evening he spoke of a recent visit he’d made to Okinawa, in the course of which, he said, he urged American troops stationed there to make more use of local sex services. “Otherwise,” he said he said, “brave Marines won’t be able to control their sexual energy.”

Nikkan Gendai (May 15) could scarcely believe its ears. “Extinction within the year,” proclaims its headline, constituting the daily’s prediction of Ishin no Kai’s fate.

Formed last September, Nippon Ishin no Kai is an outgrowth of the Osaka Ishin no Kai, a regional grouping founded by Hashimoto in 2010. Even in its regional phase it generated national enthusiasm. It seemed a bold, brash alternative to the stale established parties. Is it now falling as abruptly as it rose?

The phrase “extinction within the year” was actually first uttered by Hashimoto himself, two days before the press conference. “At this rate,” he said, “we could be extinct within the year.” His subsequent utterances have Nikkan Gendai musing about self-fulfilling prophecy.

“It’s like suicide terrorism,” the daily quotes an unnamed member of Hashimoto’s party as saying.

What did Hashimoto mean by “at this rate?”

Nippon Ishin’s sagging fortunes have been evident for some time. Nikkan Gendai cites a Yomiuri Shimbun survey of voters’ inclinations ahead of July’s scheduled Upper House elections. The governing Liberal Democratic Party scored 47%, Ishin no Kai 8% – down from 16% a mere four months ago. A Fuji TV poll gives it 4%.

The problem, analysts agree, is Nippon Ishin’s inability to either distance itself from the LDP or else merge with it. How do Nippon Ishin’s policies differ from the LDP’s, whose rightwing nationalist agenda it shares? In no way obvious to voters. Hashimoto’s comments may have been intended as expressing a clear, unequivocal, no-nonsense stand on an issue on which a governing party would have to temporize. If so, it miscarried – to such an extent as to leave some of his own party members aghast. “This won’t go down at all well with women and young people,”  Nikkan Gendai quotes one as saying.

  • 11

    Yubaru

    Hashimoto's party 'faces extinction,' some media say

    And none too late!

  • 3

    kimuzukashiiiii

    nah... theres always going to be that 20% who do agree with him.

    Also, while these comments about comfort women are unpopular, the majority of his other racist, sexist, bigoted ramblings are actually, sadly, rather popular.

  • 6

    Yubaru

    This won’t go down at all well with women and young people,” Nikkan Gendai quotes one as saying.

    They were supporting him for all the wrong reasons in the first place! All they saw was a "celebrity" with a mouth, but reality is setting in.

    Hashimoto is leading a party of one, and it seems that even his "mentor" Ishihara is staying out of the fray as well which does not bode well for Hashimoto himself.

    The disenfranchised women and younger generation will have to look elsewhere for their next "idol".

  • 3

    FullM3taL

    Hashimoto's party 'faces extinction,' some media say

    Perhaps for the best. His comments are not doing anyone any favors.

  • 6

    Ayesha

    One element of being a successful politician is being able to admit you were wrong. The trouble with Hashimoto is that he is so-self opinionated that he can't bring himself to even conceive of doing this. And his mind seems to be permanently set in a mode of continuously trying to think of new arguments to defend his position.

  • 6

    Virtuoso

    Enraptured in his inflated ego, Hashimoto has mistaken Osaka voters' desperation for a city government that can get things done as their acceptance of him as Japan's messiah. Hopefully the public won't be forced to put up with these episodes of megalomania much longer.

  • 3

    MumbaiRocks!

    Hitler followed the same course. Take advantage of nationalism to get elected and fake some sort of sanity until he rose to high enough power to show his true vitriol.

  • 4

    Disillusioned

    Hashimoto's party 'faces extinction,'

    GOOD!

  • 3

    Kurobune

    As stated in a previous post, something has to be said about an electorate that is responsible for putting such a person in office. This person continues to make incendiary and ignorant comments. Can nothing be done?

  • 4

    Scrote

    I'm enjoying Toru kun's hole-digging immensely. I hope all those who voted for these clowns feel suitably chagrined.

  • 0

    Jaymann

    extinction? No doubt he'll deny this...

  • 3

    LFRAgain

    "Hashimoto's party 'faces extinction,' some media say"

    Good riddance, I say. This man is toxic, pure and simple.

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    Glad to see him on the way out.

    Hope he takes some of his cronies with him, Ishihara, Abe, Inose, et al.

  • -6

    chucky3176

    I am 100% sure Hashimoto will have a thriving career because most Japanese either openly or secretly agree with him.

  • 2

    Yubaru

    One element of being a successful politician is being able to admit you were wrong.

    Not in Japan it isn't. A successful politician here is the one who doesn't get caught!

  • 0

    Yubaru

    Hope he takes some of his cronies with him, Ishihara, Abe, Inose, et al.

    Living in a box again recently? Abe and Hashimoto are the furthest thing from being "cronies"

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    Yubaru,

    I think you need to check the dictionary:

    crony: noun informal, often derogatory - a close friend or companion: "he went gambling with his cronies."

  • -1

    Thomas Anderson

    Sad thing is that it may take a while for the voters to distance themselves from the LDP.

  • 4

    Graham DeShazo

    I think that Virtuoso absolutely nailed it. The people of Osaka wanted a doer and Hashimoto got things done on a local level. But the national level is, as they say, the big leagues. And he is clearly not ready for prime time. Nor will he ever be.

    I would like to add that while I am very sympathetic to the issue of Burakumin and the non-sensical discrimination that they continue to face, I think in this case, Mr. H got a pass because of his background. His career as an advisor to Yakked-up lending companies that ensnared the week, the stupid and the desperate, was never really covered by the mass media (In my opinion because of his background). Likewise, did we really not see that a man with 5 (7? I cant remember) children who spent lots of time and money in a sex club might not be able to see the difference between ambivelance to an existant sex industry (the U.S. in Vietnam et al.) and organized, systemic sexual slavery (The Japanese Army everywhere it went.) I think we are now seeing the true Hashimoto.

    My prediction, he will think that he can talk/bully his way out of this. He will be wrong. If anything good comes of this, it will be two-fold. First, liabling S. Koreans in Japan will be come as unacceptable as gay bashing in my home nation the U.S. Second, even Ishi may have to disown him now which would force him to shut up on these issues for the forseeable future. Not likely, but hey, a man can dream.....

  • -2

    Asaya

    The Chinese have done nothing but give the Japanese people an identity, education, architecture, government, and a fantastic culture. The Japanese have given china rape, murder, death, invasion, theft of property and the use of chinese civilians as guinea pigs for medical experiments. So I would say the Chinese have a pretty legit case against the empire of Japan.

  • 1

    BertieWooster

    Asaya-san,

    If you pick out only the good things that China has given Japan and the worst things that Japan has done to China, of course you can make the scales tip this way.

    General statements that push forward certain facts and ignore others are what upset people.

    This is what Hashimoto does.

    He makes broad sweeping statements that ignore certain things and push forward his own (ganko oyaji-based) opinions.

    It doesn't resolve the problem.

    It just adds fuel to the fire.

  • -2

    sandiegoluv

    Asaya, what planet would that be on?

  • 1

    sandiegoluv

    I hope to see Hashimoto out of politics soon, but such a thing I fear is not going to happen. He is trying to become popular by stroking nationalism and giving historical events a sad excuse for occurring. He is a demagogue and will prosper in Japan for a very long time. He is not interested in helping his country out. He is too short-sighted and doing what a lot of politicians do. Looking out for himself and not his country.

  • -1

    shallots

    I thought Hashimoto's party wanted to cut government spending on everything and get rid of government agencies (redundant or otherwise), like the U.S. right wing, while the LDP's Abenomics is basically Obamanomics, i.e. print and spend lots of money? Almost everyone says the JRP is indistinguishable from the LDP. If I'm wrong on these details then I'm wrong, but it seems to me that major differences like these are glossed over because the media here never got it or cared in the first place. Having said that, Hashimoto probably never really cared in the first place either, being the demagogue that he is. If he really believed in austerity, he would have been Abe's harshest critic (like the U.S.'s libertarian right). I know what you're thinking: why look for substance where there is none?

  • -4

    DudeDeuce

    I find it funny how people on here are praying for him to leave as if their lives have turned for the worst, let me ask-

    How many of you people have the right to vote here? Of those voters, how many of you are voting within Osaka? Do you work in an Osaka government related position and have had your salary cut? Is it becoming inconvenient for you to get off of Midosuji Street to light a cigarette? Have your taxes increased to a point that you are living in a box near Shin Imamiya Station?

  • 0

    Amidalism

    His party cannot go extinct fast enough! Toss this fool out of office!

  • -4

    toshiko

    @Bertie: You stated Yubaru look at dictionary.. Yubaru wrote 'Abe and Hashimoto are the furthest thing from being "cronies" Can you read comments? Yubaru wrote THE FURTHEST FROM BEING CRONIES. Learn to read. Your reading skill is worse than my broken English.

  • -5

    toshiko

    Bertie you were the one wrote Hashimoto, Abe, Inose. Yubaru just wrote to correct. So, you think Hashimoto, Abe, and Inose are cronies. Inose was DPJ belonged mayor. Abe is LDP head. You are the one confused. LDPand Komeito are against Ishin-no-Kai. So is DPJ.

  • 1

    Mike Critchley

    At last, some positive news about the state of the nation!

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    Toshiko-san,

    I apologise for the confusion.

    When I described Hashimoto, Abe and Inose as "cronies," I wasn't referring so much to any actual camaraderie amongst them so much as the ultra right-wing, nationalist "Japan-never-did-anything-wrong" pigheadedness that they hold in common.

    I realise that this is a sweeping generality and do not wish to state that all ultra right-wing, nationalist "Japan-never-did-anything-wrong" politicians are pigheaded.

    There may be some that are quite nice when you get to know them.

  • 0

    edojin

    As has happened in the past, the name of the party might be changed ... with Hashimoto continuing in his "new role" as leader of the "new" party. Even if his party vanishes, he will still be in the spotlight somewhere ...

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. Of course, he'll just rename it something else and people will conveniently forget all he's said and done under the current party's name.

  • -2

    toshiko

    @Bertie-san: I am the one who has to apologize for my terrible manner against you. I will restrain myself from bickering against comment writers from now on. I mean everywhere. Many of mines were bickering. Coming back to this subject, Ishin-no-kai only have 3 upper house concil members while Your Party has 13. Many non-Osaka based members must have been tired with Hashimoto and Nishimura type comments. Hashimoto created this party but he is not a Rep or Cpincil members so the party will not be able to meddle national politics.

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    Toshiko-san,

    Don't worry. I'm not easily offended.

    You make an interesting point. Actually, Hashimoto has very little power. So, I wonder why people don't just ignore him. There are people in the world who want to start trouble. Hashimoto's brainless words just give them the opportunity to do it.

    Maybe the best thing to do is ignore him.

    And, when he finds that no one is listening to him, maybe he'll go away.

  • -2

    toshiko

    Even he talked about US FI behavior, there is nothing reported on him, even in the report of GI behavior problems,

  • 2

    toshiko

    Ishin-no-kai has to be vanished. Also Ishihara, too. I copied following from WikiPedia. Kapanese language versions had details more but English version is OK. In a 2001 interview with women's magazine Shukan Josei, Ishihara said that he believed "old women who live after they have lost their reproductive function are useless and are committing a sin," adding that he "couldn't say this as a politician." He was criticized in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly for these comments, but responded that the criticism was driven by "tyrant… old women. -------------- there were more other controversial statements he made. You may not like Abe, but USC educated Abe is not a wmen hater and worked for equal ecucation for female. He has advantage dealing with US politicians. When USA politicians talk things without relaizing Abe knows what kind of secret they are talking becuase he has California English fluently.

  • 1

    Osaka_Doug

    Yes, Hashimoto has lost his respect -- especially in the international community -- we cannot follow someone like this.

  • -3

    timtak

    And here is me thinking Hashimoto is so good I am thinking of getting Japanese nationality so that I can vote for him. At last an honest, practical, effective politician that cuts spending (!!!) and who is neither scared of, nor inclined to brown nose Americans! He is the Japanese Ron Paul. My seminar students seem to agree with what he had to say too.

  • -3

    budgie

    The article is wrong when it claims that such a slip of the tongue is inevitable. Hashimoto's party is built on promotion of nationalist ideals and denial of historical wrongdoing.

    It's called the "Restoration "Party and was founded by among others the Tokyo governor who referred to Asians as "sangokujin". They hate the world and they think they're better that their neighbors. It has never been a secret that the "Restoration" party seeks to restore Japan's imperial "greatness" and place itself above it's "racially inferior" Asian neighbors.

    If it was a slip of the tongue Hashimoto would have apologized rather than qualified. No he said exactly what he meant, what he believes and part of what his part platform is.

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