“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Making sense of Hashimoto is becoming harder and harder as time goes on. On the one hand with his recent obsessions regarding tattooed Osaka city council workers he has started to make himself look like the dictatorial hypocrite that some claimed that he was, or at least fulfilled the expectation that he would be far too full of himself to walk back an obviously badly conceived policy.
It also made him look less like the politically astute operator many believed him to be. It is one thing for your opponents to use what you have done against you to paint you as something you may not be – but walking into a narrative trap (“fascist,” or “intemperate” or whatever) clearly laid out before you seemingly without hesitation is pretty boneheaded.
On the other hand the “defeat” that Hashimoto suffered at the hands of the DPJ government over the Oi nuclear reactor restart reflected upon Hashimoto in a different way: Hashimoto admitted his defeat in this war of the wills and even went as far as to “withdraw” the declaration of war on the DPJ government he had put forward earlier on in the debate about the restart of the reactor, arguing that he was indeed intemperate in making such an announcement – it should only be used as a once in a lifetime resort. I suppose this implies that he is going to break it out again if need be.
What to make of this? Is this a new “flexible” side of Hashimoto coming out? Are his advisors having an impact by counseling him over the types of battles he chooses? Did he realize that the DPJ was trying to drive him into a corner in order to take the wrath of a hot and bothered Osaka during the peak of a summer of brownouts? Or that he had been called on insincere populism? Time will tell I guess. Whatever the correct interpretation it was a rough last couple of weeks for the Osaka Mayor.
But if we are to judge one by their enemies, then the hatred of Hashimoto that fills the infamous cultural fascist, revisionist pseudo-historian, and Sino-Korean provocateur-supreme Kobayashi Yoshinori (plenty more adjectives could apply) suggests that Hashimoto should rest a little easy. Let us list the ways that Kobayashi hates (日) Hashimoto so, according to the Shuukan Bunshun:
Kobayashi first starts off with the claim that in his 20 years of ‘commentating’ or ‘debating’ issues of apparent national importance (sarcasm should be noted) that he has never seen anyone as infantile as Hashimoto Toru.
He calls him a “fraudulent” patriot.
He is particularly concerned about his lack of reverence for the Japanese emperor. He criticizes him for his wanting Osaka to be considered a 都 (tou). This is not for any administrative or political reason – Kobayashi argues that such a designation should only be reserved for the city in which the emperor resides, and to expect otherwise is churlish.
He does have Hashimoto up about his over-eagerness in pursuing teachers who do not stand for the Japanese national anthem and pay appropriate respect for the flag.
Here however his critique is not motivated by some profound respect for democracy. Nope again, its about the emperor, particularly the current one who is one record as having said it would be nice if people showed patriotism without being coerced.
He is against the TPP, which is something that Hashimoto has said Japan needs to consider if it wants to internationalize its economy. For Kobayashi the problem is essentially that the TPP would destroy the unique rice-producing nation that was a gift from the gods, and now ruled by an unbroken line of divine emperors. Add in some stuff about an economy being dependent on foreign consumption being bad and potentially turning Japan into Korea.
Kobayashi then makes some vague but more coherent points about neoliberal economic policies undermining the Japanese economy and driving societal inequality through promoting the survival of the fittest. He cites the current global financial crisis as proof of that.
[Essentially he is critical of Hashimoto’s fondness for some of the Koizumi administration’s policies, although to be fair to Hashimoto there are some areas where is actually pro-public investment so may differ from the Koizumi crowd in some crucial ways. Hashimoto, after all, has been rather reluctant to be too closely associated with Watanabe Yoshimi’s Your Party.]
Kobayashi hates Hashimoto’s populism in regards to anti-nuclear movements around the country. He thinks Hashimoto taking on academics and criticizing bureaucrats who criticize Hashimoto is nothing more than a child’s quarrel. He hates how he dismisses people like Kobayashi as precocious brats. And he thinks this kind of behaviour is putting a wall between politicians and the citizenry.
It is true that Hashimoto is somewhat immature in his dismissiveness of people who criticize him, and while good for entertainment probably does not endear him to people he may have to work with in the future. Nevertheless critical debate like this is for Kobayashi the antithesis of democracy (if directed against him anyway). The final paragraph is worth reproducing in full:
Experts and mass media journalists who praise Hashimoto, who is on par with childish dictators like Kim Jong-Eun, and his determination to break through entrenched interests by embracing a decisive politics (or more accurately, a politics that can make decisions), are all idiots. We may as well just give up on democracy and yell “banzai,” “comrade,” and “Hashimoto-shogun” (ie military dictator) just like they do in North Korea!
Serious stuff as you can see.