Media Mix, March 7, 2021


Here’s this week’s Media Mix about the ignominious end of the petition drive to recall Aichi Prefecture Governor Hideaki Omura. Though I purposely played down the ideological forces at play in this drama, it mostly came down to what one observer called ineptitude in the service of blind rage. Famous plastic surgeon Katsuya Takasu was the public face of the recall campaign, and he’s an equally famous right wing firebrand who was deeply offended by that section in the 2019 Aichi Triennale art show that featured things like the comfort woman statue and some burnt photo of the emperor. Omura had nothing to do with the selection of these exhibits. He was simply a figurehead, someone who was named the head of the Triennale for ceremonial purposes, but since he didn’t support the closing of the exhibit (it closed due to threats from anonymous persons) he was demonized by Takasu and Takashi Kawamura, the mayor of Nagoya, where the exhibit was held. Kawamura is not so much right wing as totally self-serving, and he’s had a beef with Omura ever since the governor declined to support his pet project, rebuilding Nagoya Castle completely in wood. There were other more minor right wing personages behind the petition drive, but these two are the ones with the name value, so they pretty much have to carry the burden of the ignominy after 80 percent of the names on the petitions were found to be forged. It may be months before the results of a police investigation into the matter see light, but the general feeling I got from reading the coverage in Litera and conversations about the matter on the internet is that there was never enough public support behind the recall and perhaps the authors of the petition knew that. What they mainly wanted was to keep their resentment of the Triennale and Omura’s lack of support in the public’s consciousness. So the question is: When did it turn from a desperate PR ploy into a desperate face-saving gambit? Even Makoto Sakurai, one of the most rabid right-wingers in Japan, commented that the forgeries seemed to indicate that the people behind the recall had been carried away and in the process lost all sense of proportion. How to explain the utterly foolish idea of setting up an operation to forge petitions that would be impossible to hide? Media are calling the Chunichi Shimbun and Nishinippon Shimbun stories about the petition mill scoops, but from what I gather the information was just there in plain sight for anyone to discover. It’s tempting to characterize this stupidity as a side effect of the uncompromising hatred that many ultra-conservatives trade in, and not just in Japan. It just shows what can happen when that hatred gets out of hand. 

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