A debate between Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Makoto Sakurai, the leader of an anti-Korean group, ended not long after it started.
The two participants, who were discussing hate speech, had to be separated by security guards not long after the session began. The proceedings resumed but concluded abruptly a few minutes later when hostilities again surfaced.
“Go back to Tobita Shinchi!” Sakurai yelled at Hashimoto in a parting shot.
The remark is in reference to the infamous brothel quarter of Osaka whose management association employed Hashimoto as legal counsel prior to his entering politics.
With the mayor currently suing a weekly magazine over claims made about his tenure with the association, Shukan Taishu (Nov. 10) finds his views to be unlike any other politician.
“In May of last year, Hashimoto indicated that ‘comfort women’ were necessary for the Japanese military during World War II,” a local news reporter says. “(Weekly tabloid) Shukan Bunshun later ran a story that denigrated the mayor.”
Inside the article, Bunshun claimed that Hashimoto, who became mayor in 2011, frequented soapland bathhouses via the monetary support of the Tobita Shinchi association.
In the trial, which began at the Osaka District Court in May of this year, Hashimoto is seeking 11 million yen in compensation for defamation from Bungeisha, which publishes Shukan Bunshun. But what Shukan Taishu views as amusing is that the mayor does not find fault with the reporting on his soapland visits but rather that he was being wined and dined.
Indeed, there is little doubt that he is a soapland regular.
“When Hashimoto was a lawyer he came here quite often,” says an employee at a soapland in Kobe’s Fukuhara area. “He was a contracted adviser for Tobita Shinchi so it seemed like he was being entertained by the association.”
In court documents, Hashimoto clearly denied that the visits were “entertainment.”
“It is not a fact that I received sex services as a form of business entertainment,” read Hashimoto’s claim.
Further revealing, according to Shukan Taishu, was his suggestion to a U.S. military commander in Okinawa that U.S. servicemen utilize Japan’s fuzoku trade, which is commercial sex.
“If one claims that he makes use of the fuzoku industry, it does not harm his pride,” says a reporter in Osaka. “However, the (Bunshun) report about sex-as-entertainment, he says, damaged his social position.”
The mayor has said that it is wrong to discriminate against women who choose to work in the fuzoku industry, which is legal.
A writer who covers the Osaka government says that historically politicians have provided visits to sex establishments as a form of entertainment. Therefore, Hashimoto’s stance is unique.
“He is a new breed,” says the writer.
The trial will continue on November 14. (K.N.)
Source: “Hashimoto Toru vs Shukan Bunshun jingi naki ‘soopurando senso’ no yukue,” Shukan Taishu (Nov. 10, pages 52-53)