TOKYO (TR) – A weekly tabloid said that it will publish an apology following a backlash over an article in this week’s issue that portrays Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto in a very negative light, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 18).
The article, published in Shukan Asahi on October 16, contained “inappropriate descriptions,” said the magazine in a statement released on Thursday. The magazine said the apology will appear in its next issue.
On Wednesday, the 43-year-old Hashimoto announced at a press conference at the Osaka city government offices that he will refuse interviews by reporters from the Asahi Shimbun daily newspaper and Asahi Broadcasting Corp., as a means of protest over the Shukan Asahi article.
Hashimoto heads the upstart Japan Restoration Party, which was officially recognized by the government in September. The mayor plans to lend support to approximately 300 candidates in the next Lower House election. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has hinted that such a poll could occur before the end of the year.
This is not the first time this year that the popular and confrontational Hashimoto has publicly commented on an article appearing in a tabloid. In the July 26 issue of Shukan Bunshun, an article described the mayor’s extra-marital affair with a hostess in 2006 — a report that Hashimoto admitted was mostly true, including the claims that he likes women who dress in costumes.
Hashimoto, however, blasted the Shukan Asahi portrait, calling it a “dreadful way of thinking,” in referring to the article’s negative connotations about the impact his roots may have in his ability to be a politician.
The article, written by journalist Shinichi Sano, mentions his father’s background as a member of organized crime and family history in the often discriminated class known as burakumin, which are communities whose histories include work in undesirable areas, such as undertaking and butchery. The article also likens Hashimoto, who in May began a crusade against public servants sporting tattoos, to Adolf Hitler.
“In the article, there were several unsuitable descriptions, such as the burakumin content,” said Daishi Kawabata, the editor-in-chief of Shukan Asahi. “I deeply apologize for the annoyance that has resulted. We in no way intended to endorse or promote discrimination.”