NYT making fun of Osaka Mayor’s dad

In a recent article about Japan’s idling of all of its nuclear reactors, the reporter made a casual aside about the parentage of Osaka mayor Hashimoto Toru.

Instead, the central government has found itself battling an improbable adversary: Osaka’s mayor, Toru Hashimoto, the young, plain-speaking son of a yakuza gangster who has ridden Japan’s loss of faith in government to become, seemingly overnight, the country’s best-liked politician, according to recent polls.

The Japanese Wikipedia page on Hashimoto, sourced from this article on the website j-cast, mentions that his father was a gangster who committed suicide when Toru was a second grade elementary school student, and that the couple had been divorced since much earlier.

Although it is factually correct that Hashimoto’s father was a gangster, he was apparently no more than a biological parent, out of his son’s life almost immediately, and no longer living just a few years later. The newspaper’s phrasing makes a very strong implication that his “plain-speaking”-ness is derived from his father’s example, but considering that he basically never knew his father, I think the association is just as unfair as the stupid attacks against Obama based on his father being a Muslim, or against both Obama and Romney because they had polygamist grandfathers.

I’m all for making fun of him for his own craziness, of which there is plenty, but don’t bash him for what his absent father may or may not have done.

On the other hand, Hashimoto has recently embarked upon a bizarre crusade against Osaka employees with tattoos, due to the traditional association between tattoos and yakuza. Perhaps he does, after all, have some latent father issues?

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8 thoughts on “NYT making fun of Osaka Mayor’s dad”

  1. The reference to yakuza left me scratching my head, too. It has a certain sort of relevance in the discussion of tattoos, but nuclear reactors…?

    As an aside, it’s amazing how the word “yakuza” has the ability to instantly turn heads abroad, undoubtedly because most Americans think they’re suit-wearing ninja assassins instead of, you know, drug dealers and con artists who defraud little old ladies out of their savings. (See: “Aliens vs. Predator.”)

  2. Zizek has a book called “Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?” in which he argues that calling something totalitarian usually just shuts down profitable discussion. The field of Japan analysis/watching/whatever needs a “Did Somebody Say Yakuza?”

  3. It’s kind of ironic that the New York Times would make that kind of comment.

    One might apply that standard to their own reporters.

    For example, Hiroko Tabuchi who is a graduate of the Canadian International Academy in Kobe is half-Chinese; perhaps we need to closer examine her writing for any pro-Chinese ‘slant’ (which some allege there is).

    Norimitsu Onishi was born in Ichikawa Chiba and claims he is “Japanese-Canadian” however in truth he is/was a naturalized Japanese citizen of (North) Korean descent; and, in this case, his background and alleged bias in writing has not gone unnoticed.

    Sins of their (Chinese, Korean) (grand) fathers?

    Sounds like a familiar title.

  4. What should we call this Japan-specific version of Godwin’s Law? And can it be done without preventing Mr. Adelstein from taking part in the internet entirely?

  5. “Perhaps he does, after all, have some latent father issues?”

    Possibly.Hashimoto has been very critical of Burakumin related public spending.

    I’m not so sure how many New Yorkers would find this article offensive.
    Didn’t former New York city mayor Rudy Giuliani have same sort of family background,minus dad commiting suicide in the end?
    Or perhaps Fackler simply wants to have opportunity to use his wearable vending machine.He’s need it if he was a Japanese reporter.

  6. You don’t want to go TOO far with Godwin’s law (or the Yakuza corollary) though. I mean, sometimes you actually have to talk about actual Nazi’s, and sometimes you have to talk about actual Yakuza. But in a story like this it seems totally out of place. On the other hand, I think it would be totally OK to mention Hashimoto’s Yakuza father in a story that had something logical to do with Yakuza, like the tattoo story for example.

    And yes, Guiliani’s father was a real low level mafia thug who served hard time, who worked for the uncle, who was a higher level (but I think still not very high level) guy. And since he made himself famous by prosecuting mafia guys, you can be damn sure that the Times has printed dozens if not hundreds of articles over the years that pointed out with glee how a mafia kid was going after the mafia.

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