Friday, February 17, 2012

Enough About Hashimoto Toru Already!

Why this sudden focus on Hashimoto Toru? Why not write about some other important topic, one with greater interest to the international relations crowd? What about the stunning package deal on the movement of U.S. Marines announced a week ago?

OK, yes it was remarkable that the United States relented on having the return of five facilities in southern Okinawa (including Naha Port!) being conditional on the building of a Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko. Yes, it was historic that the plan to move 8,000 Marines and their dependents to Guam was downsized to sending only 4,700 Marines to Guam, with the remainder of those slated for redeployment scattered about the Asia-Pacific. (Link)

Nevertheless, one has to wonder who the genius was -- whether it was someone in the U.S. Pentagon or, in a brilliant reverse strike against the congenitally anti-bureaucrat Democratic Party of Japan, a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and/or the Ministry of Defense -- who had the brilliant idea of proposing to send 1,500 of the Futenma Marines to Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. (Link)

For it is not often that just days after signing off on what is purported to be a big win for Japanese diplomacy (Link - E) that the government of Japan has to send two cabinet ministers to visit a prefectural governor and a mayor and assure them with their heads bowed that under no circumstances is the government of Japan considering to send more Marines their way (Link) -- especially as the threat of such a move led to the mayor of Iwakuni City to cancel a land sale necessary for the provision of housing to the U.S. Navy service members and their dependents already being moved out of the Atsugi Airbase. (Link)

Technically, the 1,500 Marines to Iwakuni proposal is a snafu, the result of not thinking something through -- and thinking things through is sort of what government officials are paid to do.

So somebody -- or a lot of somebodies -- did not do his/her/their job(s).

Now, as to Hashimoto Toru, the latest stunning revelation -- and it is a doozy -- is that upon discovering that Osaka City employees last November carried out anti-Hashimoto campaign activities using Osaka City property (Link - J) the man-in-a-awful-hurry ordered all of Osaka City's 35,000 employees to fill out a questionnaire detailing their political and union activities, requiring them to return it by the 16th (yesterday - Link - J).

The local teacher's union told Hashimoto to go take a hike (Link - J). Japan's Communist Party is in a complete, slavering snit (Link - J). Japan's national bar association has told Hashimoto he was out of his mind (Link - J).

Something about the mayor's order being a violation of the Constitution, something about Article 14, Article 15, Article 19...Article 21...Article 28...

Why did Hashimoto bother to do this? He won the election, running away. Furthermore, what Osaka City employee in his or her right mind would fill out the questionnaire truthfully?

The incident just adds another brick to the wall of what is being derisively referred to as Hashimoto's "Hashism."


sigma1 said...

Not that I personally condone any type of constitutionally dubious behaviour, but I wonder if "Hashism" is having any impact on the popular imagination, rather than it being somewhat of an elite obsession/narrative. As long as he keeps his targets focused on the narrow and unpopular then the damage maybe minimal - if a disadvantage at all. I can't quite yet work out if he is really simply a loose cannon, or if he is actually picking his battles well, but persecuting them with a little too much vigor. If the former then we should expect "hashism" to crossover to being a popular concern when he oversteps and takes on the absolute wrong people - or takes on too many people at once. So far I don't think he has crossed that line yet.

MTC said...

sigma1 -

it seems Hashimoto has so far lost only two major national stage allies due to the Ishin no kai policy declaration: Hiranuma Takeo and Sakaiya Tai'ichi. Watanabe Yoshimi and Ishihara Shintaro are still on board the Hashimoto train.