Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about various theories on why former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai changed his plea in the middle of his trial for buying votes for his wife, Anri, during the 2019 Upper House election. The journalists and others I mention are knowledgeable and serious, but there were other theories floating around from less reputable sources, the most interesting one being that of Asahi Geino, a weekly magazine known for its salacious content, especially with regard to celebrity sex scandals. In the April 1 issue the magazine interviewed a former “executive” of a yakuza organization who said that prior to the election campaign for the Hiroshima seat in question, he was asked to dig up dirt on Anri’s main opponent, Kensei Mizote, who, like her, belongs to the Liberal Democratic Party. Mizote has often been touted as the main reason for the alleged vote-buying spree, since former prime minister Shinzo Abe reportedly hates his guts owing to some unflattering things Mizote said about Abe in the past. The ex-gangster interviewed by Asahi Geino, Tokihide Hirota, didn’t mind revealing his own name but he wouldn’t reveal that of the person who asked the favor. However, he did say this person was the chairman of a powerful “corporate group” in Hiroshima Prefecture. Also, Hirota got the impression that this chairman himself had been asked to find some compromising intelligence about Mizote. Hirota boldly speculates that it was probably a sitting member of the prefectural assembly and that this person was probably solicited to carry out the dirty work by none other than LDP secretary-general Toshihiro Nikai, since Anri belongs to Nikai’s faction in the party.
Hirota couldn’t resist throwing his own two yen into the discussion, saying that it’s all about the enmity between Abe and Mizote and “factional in-fighting within the LDP.” The fact that this intramural donnybrook has been “exported” to the Hiroshima electorate shows just how “shameful” Japanese politics has become. “It’s terrible for the local citizens,” he said, thus reminding us that yakuza are citizens, too.