Japan from the inside out

Hashimoto Toru (8): Hitler Jr.

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, June 2, 2012

IT was visible to the naked eye a light-year away: The junior Japan hands of the English-language media are starting to spool out the Hitlerian/dictator narrative for Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru now that new and weirder Weird Japan stories are getting harder to outsource.

Of course, the two men have plenty in common. The Hashimoto and Hitler names begin with the letter H, they both have/had dark hair, they like/liked the sound of their own voice and…and…ever so much more!

Here’s another one. They are/were both inhumanitarians. Mr. Hashimoto recently announced that as of August, the city of Osaka will stop providing assistance to the Japanese Red Cross Society for their fund-raising activities. He said:

“City Hall should not cooperate with fund-raising…It is inappropriate for municipal employees to be handling money other than public funds.“

One newspaper account said it was unusual for local governments to decline to help the Red Cross collect money for such operations as disaster relief and blood donations, because it was for the public good.

Yeah, it was a straight news article.

The Red Cross was perturbed. They said:

“It’s possible we won’t be able to raise sufficient funds.”

It certainly is. The Osaka city government collects from JPY 260-280 million every year that it passes on to the organization.

The Red Cross has opened storefronts in most municipal level-governments in Japan, and their Osaka branch opened in 1952.  City comptrollers and deputy mayors have served as chairmen of the Red Cross district headquarters.

Spurring the break was a March meeting between the mayor and a citizens’ group that monitors the improper handling of city funds. The officer of a residents’ association that supported a former comptroller in a past mayoral election was also an officer of a local Red Cross organization. Some of the operating funds for his Red Cross district wound up in a different bank account and were used for the activities of the residents’ association.

There was another failure to keep bank accounts straight in Futtsu, Chiba, back in 2007. It was discovered that the city official in charge of the local Red Cross contributions in his district had diverted some Red Cross funds in “extremely inappropriate ways”, as the local newspaper reports had it, and the whereabouts of a large amount of money became unknown. The Red Cross in Chiba offered a contrite apology and promised that it would never happen again.

More recently, there have been questions about the length of time it has taken for contributions to the Red Cross to be distributed in the Tohoku region after the earthquake/tsunami. Six months to a year is a long time to wait for help. Nippon Foundation Chairman Sasakawa Yohei, known for his charitable work on behalf of lepers, has raised questions about why it should take that long for JPY 300 billion to get put in a position where it could do some good.

He pointed out that the Red Cross is supposed to be independent of government, but that the Japanese government often blatantly gets involved in its activities.  He raised the issue of the slapdash manner in which fund distribution for the Tohoku region was decided in a Health Ministry conference room, though all the people involved tried to slough off the responsibility to the prefectural chapters. Mr. Sasakawa criticized the media for their lack of follow-up coverage, and said they should report once a month on the progress of the fund distribution.

In the United States, even the Socialist Worker Joe Allen is concerned about government involvement in the Red Cross. Some of those funds don’t seem to go where they’re supposed to either.

In recent years, the image of the Red Cross has been tarnished. The worst scandal came after the September 11 attacks, when it was revealed that a large portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars donated to the organization went not to survivors or family members of those killed, but to other Red Cross operations, in what was described by chapters across the country as a “bait-and-switch” operation….


People who think of the Red Cross as a “private charity” would be shocked to discover its actual legal status.

Congress incorporated the Red Cross to act under “government supervision.” Eight of the 50 members of its board of governors are appointed by the president of the United States, who also serves as honorary chairperson. Currently, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security are members of the board of governors.

This unique, quasi-governmental status allows the Red Cross to purchase supplies from the military and use government facilities–military personnel can actually be assigned to duty with the Red Cross. Last year, the organization received $60 million in grants from federal and state governments. However, as one federal court noted, “A perception that the organization is independent and neutral is equally vital.”

The people running the Japanese Red Cross are from a different social stratum, however: The honorary chair is the Empress of Japan, and members of the Imperial Family also serve as vice chairs. Here, it is a special corporation under the authority of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. The president is Konoe Tadateru, the younger brother of former Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro. The brothers are descended from the daimyo of the old Kumamoto feudal domain on their father’s side, and are the grandsons of Konoe Fumimaro, the prime minister who preceded Tojo Hideki, on their mother’s side. (Konoe even had the stache years before Adolf did.) Tadateru was formally adopted into his mother’s family to provide continuity to the family line, which is a branch of the Fujiwara clan of nobles. The Fujiwaras date back to the 7th century, when they started a four century-long strategy for exercising political influence by marrying their daughters off to the Emperors.

Why should city employees in either country do their work for them?


Meanwhile, the New Kansai International Airport Co., which will operate both the Kansai International Airport and the Osaka International Airport (Itami) starting next month, has begun negotiations to purchase the outstanding stock of Osaka Interntaional Airport Terminal, the company that owns and operates the Itami terminal building. They expect to finish the purchase by next summer after negotiating the stock price.

The city of Osaka owns 20% of OAT, and the mayor is ready to sell his stake. Said Mr. Hashimoto:

“This is the element on which I was most insistent as the basic policy for combining operations. I will be extremely happy if this happens.”

Osaka Prefecture owns another 20%, and Hashimoto ally Gov. Matsui Ichiro said:

“It would be even more effective (if the OAT earnings) lead to the reduction of landing fees. I hope to be able to sell the stock at an appropriate price.”

So, the mayor continues to extract the Osaka municipal public sector from operations it has no business being involved in. Man, this Hashimoto cat might as well start growing that jive moustache now.

Fortunately, the Japanese seldom give a flying fut about foreigner tut-tutting over their politicians, nor are they tethered to the EU ball and chain. That frees them from having other member states declare their pols persona non grata, or de facto ousting them and selecting their replacements.

When the New York Times mistranslated some Abe Shinzo comments on comfort women to get him in Dutch with the Japanese in 2007, Mr. Abe’s poll numbers plummeted by 0.01% the next month. Even the veteran comfort women campaigners of the Asahi Shimbun held their tongues.

Rather than Japan hands, it might be more apt to refer to these expertise-free experts as Japan fingers. Hand is an inaccurate term for people who lack the intellectual equivalent of 80% of their digits and the entire carpal/metacarpal structure.


Late last month, we saw how a small group of protesters held up, but did not prevent, the incineration of debris from the Tohoku area at Kitakyushu. The results showed the radiation released wasn’t even close to dangerous limits. But one overheated clerk at a consumer electronics mass merchandiser in a different part of the country Tweeted a death threat in the mayor’s direction, which got him arrested. He’s now claiming he didn’t mean it.

Still free as a bird after a similar Tweet of his own is Gunma University volcanologist Hayakawa Yukio. On 15 April, he Tweeted about Fukushima farmers anxious to ship their produce:

This has been difficult for me to understand, but hereafter I will regard farmers such as these as my enemy. I will not stand for having poison put in my mouth. Kill before being killed.

How unlucky for those two not to have been born Americans. It prevents half the political class, most of the mass media, and all of academia and the entertainment industry from martyrizing them.


It won’t be long now before this production starts its Osaka run.

2 Responses to “Hashimoto Toru (8): Hitler Jr.”

  1. Hashimoto is difficult to quantify. On the one hand, I applaud him for wanting to upend the current political status quo, and decentralise the power in Japan, which makes him pretty unpopular in Tokyo. However, he does seem to like the sound of his own voice as you say, is a bit elitist and has made some sweeping, dictatorial demands like, no tattooed workers in the Osaka government. I don’t think he’s Hitler though (isn’t that a favourite insult). I hope he succeeds in getting a party going that rivals the corrupt ones that currently bumble about, and tones down a bit on the rhetoric.
    V: Thanks for the note. My sentiments exactly. There’s plenty more Hashism info by clicking on the tag below. After I finish the two or three more I’ve already got planned, I’ll probably be halfway to a book.



  2. […] (Blog Post) Ampontan divulges the truth behind Hashimoto‘s alleged Hitler like associations (link) […]

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