Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
The April 9 Japan Times story “Hashimoto to sue Asahi for story on family past” does not make it clear to me on what grounds the Osaka Mayor wants to sue the weekly Shukan Asahi and the daily Asahi Shimbun. The story did not report that the two publications are accused of printing anything that is demonstrably false, or of working with malice against the Mayor.
It is public knowledge that Mr. Hashimoto’s father, who died when he was an elementary school second grader, was a yakuza. The Mayor has not contested this news in previous media reports. Although his failure to contest it does not make the claim true by default, we know it is true through other corroborating
sources. So that makes me think that the suit is all about burakumin - the provocative story’s claim that his family came “from an area in Osaka traditionally associated with descendents of the “burakumin” feudal-era outcasts.” This information is also uncontestably true, however. Furthermore it is a verifiable fact in the public record that soon after his father’s death Mr. Hashimoto’s mother changed the reading of their family name from “Hashishta,” which was a family name often associated with the burakumin community. Who are we to probe her motives for changing the name? But once more neither the geographical origin of the family nor their name actually mean that they were burakumin. Maybe the Mayor is now overly sensitive to the imagined danger to his career of the proximity of such information - yakuza and burakumin- in the hands of the public.
The Mayor is also a confessed adulterer (“Hashimoto admits affair, doesn’t deny ‘cosplay', Japan Times, July 20, 2012), so might he eventually sue to stop us remembering it? It’s in the public record!
In today’s Japan maybe even to talk of burakumin is considered illegally discriminatory, which is ridiculous. Maybe lawsuits are a strategy to permanently bury a bad memory. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
But I could be wrong.