One of the most well-known politicians in Japan now is undoubtedly Takashi Tachibana, though it’s admittedly a pretty barren landscape these days.
Tachibana burst onto the scene about a decade ago, with an energetic campaign as the head of The Refusal to Pay NHK Reception Fee Party which soon after rebranded as The Protect the Nation from NHK Party, or N-Koku for short. As his highly descriptive party names suggest, his main platform is to end the aggressive fee-collecting ways of Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.
▼ Tachibana often aligns himself with other outsider political candidates, such as Councilman Super Crazy Kun
While educating people on the best tactics to avoid signing subscriptions to the television channel, Tachibana gradually amassed a large following which grew into a handful of local and national electoral victories in recent years. However, it was his own appointment to the National Diet’s House of Councilors that landed him in his current predicament.
While a Diet member he signed a subscription contract for his office TV that lasted from August to September, 2019. He has since disputed his need to pay the 4,560 yen reception fee, not because he didn’t owe it, but because he felt it should be offset by other legal costs from a separate dispute between him and NHK.
Judge Hiroshi Oshima of the Tokyo District Court, however, disagreed and on Feb 17 ordered that Tachibana pay the full amount to NHK directly. In a subsequent press conference Tachibana said he would “appeal the unfair judgement.”
▼ A news report of Judge Oshima’s ruling
Technicalities aside, the leader of the Protect the Nation from NHK Party being unable to protect himself from NHK is not a good look. Luckily, the party has already rebranded themselves a couple other times.
First, in December of 2020, they changed their name to the Protect the Citizens from NHK Party, which was a small but cheeky alteration that gave them the same shorthand as the one used for current ruling party, Jiminto. Then, on Feb 5, they gave themselves the even more explicit name of The Party to Teach How to Not Pay the NHK Reception Fee.
And now, following the decision, Tachibana tweeted his intentions to run for the Governor of Chiba Prefecture under a whole new party banner.
▼ “In response to today’s unfair judgement, I will create a party called ‘The Party to Crush NHK and Judge Hiroshi Oshima!’ and will run for governor in Chiba next month. We will investigate collusion between NHK and the courts.”
Declaring one’s intentions to “crush” a judge might seem overly hostile or even a criminal threat, but is really just a modification of his longstanding slogan of “Crush NHK!” Tachibana often explains this phrase to mean “destroy the ways they currently do business” and set up a fair model, such as a scrambling system for non-payers, in its place.
Netizens, meanwhile, continue to be entertained by this cartoonishly never-ending cat-and-mouse game between Tachibana and the nation’s public broadcaster.
“Looks like NHK crushed him.”
“If he doesn’t win his appeal, they’ll probably have to change the name again.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to just pay the 4,000 yen?”
“This is all really stupid, but still entertaining.”
“He’s going to run for governor of Chiba over 4,000 yen?”
“Hurry up and crush NHK already.”
“Haha, this guy’s nuts.”
Some also pointed out that even though he lost this court case, Tachibana is still very much winning in the long run. He is constantly representing himself while NHK has to employ a legal team to continuously wrangle with him in court over trivial sums of money. Furthermore, the ensuing spectacle caused by these trials only helps to fuel Tachibana’s own popularity.
So, in a way, NHK is the biggest contributor to the success of The Party to Crush NHK and Judge Hiroshi Oshima! and The Party to Teach How Not to Pay the NHK Fee, or whatever they’ll call themselves next month.
Sources: Jiji.com, Hachima Kiko
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