Who’s more of a Nazi, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto or Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings?
“He reminds me of Hitler,” Watanabe wrote of Hashimoto in the April issue of the monthly Bungei Shunju. Hashimoto, reports the information website Zakzak (March 19), lost no time in tweeting a rejoinder: “It seems to me Mr Watanabe is the one who’s the real dictator.”
Is this serious? The crudity of their repartee makes it hard to think so, but these are powerful (and therefore, one hopes, serious) people. Hashimoto, 42, is a rising political star and Watanabe, 85, owns Japan’s – and the world’s – largest newspaper, which in turn owns the Yomiuri Giants baseball team. Last fall, Watanabe’s role in the firing of Giants general manager Hidetoshi Kiyotake was regarded by many as unwarranted interference, and in the controversy that followed, Watanabe reportedly said, “I am the last dictator.”
Hashimoto has also been accused of having a dictatorial streak. A comment he made last summer suggests that the notion is not altogether anathema to him. Musing on Japan’s political paralysis, he was reported as saying, “What Japanese politics needs today above all is dictatorship – at least the power of a dictatorship.” More recently, in a February interview with the Asahi Shimbun, he said, “In an election, the people indicate the broad direction they want [the government to follow], and give [elected politicians] a kind of carte blanche” regarding how to get there.
That, says Zakzak, is what set Watanabe off. “This reminds me of Hitler,” Watanabe said. Hitler no sooner became chancellor (in January 1933) than he passed the Enabling Act that permanently dissolved parliament. "That,” said Watanabe, “is how fascism started” in Germany. Hashimoto’s comment, he said, “is a very ominous sign.”
Nonsense, ripostes Hashimoto. There is no comparison, he argues, between today’s Japan and Germany of the 1930s. Today, Zakzak quotes him as saying, “power derives from fair elections. No dictatorship can arise from fair elections.” Or, he goes on to say, from a system in which governing term limits are firmly entrenched and government unfolds under relentless media scrutiny. “I myself,” said Hashimoto, “make a point of being available to media coverage as often as I can, and making all information public.”
His parting shot: “In contrast, isn’t it Mr Watanabe who struts like a dictator, not only at the Yomiuri Shimbun but in politics, finance, and baseball?”
What, Zakzak wonders, will Watanabe say to that?© Japan Today