Thursday, July 19, 2012

So Hashimoto Had a Flight Attendant Fetish? Hikaru Genji Remains the Gold Standard

The latest installment of Shukan Bunshun’s so-far futile campaign (unless the real objective is to shore up the chronically sagging readership) to take down now Mayor Toru Hashimoto is a tell-all feature by a night club hostess who had a fling with Hashimoto while he was still a TV lawyer tarento making mega-JPY off his outspoken, often outrageous commentary. Hashimoto is a public figure who has had more than his share of potential loss of face, some of it quite substantive, most prominently his last-minute back-off from his opposition to the restart of Units No.3 and 4 at the Oi Nuclear Power Station. As usual, he made a clean, unequivocal show of contriteness; the impact on his poll numbers should as usual be statistically insignificant.

I’ve speculated elsewhere about the reasons for Hashimoto’s apparent immunity to embarrassments, and I’ll repeat them here one of these days. But suffice to say, short of being caught in the futon with the proverbial dead girl or live boy—perhaps dead boy these days—a sex scandal will be a minor setback at most to political fortunes. I mean, just look at the DPJ’s founding fathers. There’s Yukio Hatoyama, who stole his benefactor’s wife, Naoto Kan’s slumber party with a newscaster, and Ichiro Ozawa’s ex-wife’s letter detailing among other things his extramarital issue. Speaking of whom, the acorns have not fallen far from the tree, as two Ozawa Girls, the Tiger Huntress-turned-Hit Me Princess and Ms. Nooner and their high school teacher and MLIT fast-track official beaus, respectively, have also enjoyed their 15 minutes of tabloid infamy. (And I haven’t even mentioned Goshi Hosono, the dark horse candidate to replace Prime Minister Noda, if it comes to that.)

Some gaijin have wondered why the mainstream media in Japan are giving these guys a pass. (And believe me, Hashimoto’s escapades are not going to grace the national pages of, say, the Asahi unless it turns out that the hostess was underage—it would also have been more damaging if she had been wearing a schoolgirl’s outfit.) Part of that, in my view, is that the MSM enjoy certain legal privileges and feel a corresponding need to maintain a sense of decorum, particularly when it comes to the escapades of the very people who could legislate those privileges away. But the other part of it, surely, must be that the Japanese public just doesn’t think that it’s that big a deal. After all, more than a thousand years ago, Murasaki Shikibu wrapped her all-time bestseller Genji Monogatari around Hikaru Genji’s tryst with his stepmother, the beloved consort of his dad the emperor. And Murasaki Shikibu’s day job when she wrote the steamy potboiler? Top assistant to the incumbent emperor’s consort.

We Japanese really set the bar high with that one.

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