On July 18, Shukan Bunshun printed a full-documented article (an oddity, for the publication) revealing the existence of sexual relationship between Osaka mayor Hashimoto Toru and a bar hostess since 2006. Unfortunately for Hashimoto, he had married his longtime live-in girlfriend Noriko in 1995, making his sexual relationship with the bar hostess an illicit affair.
Now Hashimoto's ability to escape damage to his image from the revelation of the affair could be helped if his marriage could be categorized as, to put it delicately, unfulfilling. However, in between 1997 and 2007, Noriko gave birth to 7 children -- which, given suppressed fertility during lactation, is evidence of nearly uninterrupted "good relations" from 1996 to 2006.
To those who would dismiss the matter, noting that many other politicians have had affairs exposed with little effect on their careers, I would offer the proposition that times have changed. True, Hashimoto has claimed to be a poor father, if not poor at fathering -- though he perversely won a "Best Father" award in 2006 -- the year he began his affair with the hostess. Hashimoto's his most famous quote on his parenting skills is: "Without my wife present, my limit of my being with the kids is about 30 minutes."
His rubbishing of his fathering skills (which his wife has echoed, saying, "What could I possibly have to tell you about his childrearing?") is one thing, abandoning his pregnant wife for a fling with a bar hostess will hurt him and his Ishin no kai with women voters, who make up at least half of his and his organization's supporters.
In general, hypocrisy does not wear well on lawyers, particularly ones who have made a career out of calling out others for their hypocrisy and stupidity.
Hashimoto is in heavy damage control mode, repeating since the publication of the story that he has caused his wife and family distress (J). Yesterday at a press availability he told reporters 15 times "This is an internal matter of the family" -- which means, of course, that it is not. (J)
How serious does Hashimoto think this story affects his public image? One measure is the extent to which he has clammed up since the Shukan Bunshun article has appeared.
Let us check out his Twitter feed, to be found at http://twitter.com/t_ishin/
July 8 - 97 tweets (!!!)
July 9 - 25 tweets
July 10 - 16 tweets
July 11 - 39 tweets (25 seem to be misdated July 12)
July 12 - 35 tweets
July 13 - 24 tweets
July 14 - 24 tweets
July 15 - 30 tweets
July 16 - 8 tweets
July 17 - 4 tweets
July 18 - 0 tweets
July 19 - 0 tweets
When Japan's most opinionated and possibly arrogant self-made man shuts up, he is telling you something: that he at least thinks himself in the deep bat guano.
Later - The Japan Times article on the scandal revisits Yamamoto Mona's affair with the married Hosono Goshi (E). The scandal did nothing to dent Hosono's standing within the Democratic Party of Japan. Hosono is indeed now the serving Minister of the Environment and the Cabinet's point man on the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Hosono's being able to shrug off the affair was aided by the popular depictions of Yamamoto, at the time a TV news reader and single, as having been the aggressor in the relationship.