Governor Ishihara is a man of many words. His bold frankness and rather haphazard comments can sometimes cause a huge uproar, polarizing a debate and needlessly inflaming the emotions of those involved and preventing a constructive dialog from taking place.
You don’t believe me? Just type “Shintaro Ishihara controversy statements” into any search engine of your choice and see what turns up. I got 11,000 hits on Google.
Shintaro Ishihara is not a political light weight. He has been a staple of Japanese politics for over 40 years and counting. While he is famous for his current position as office holder of the Tokyo governorship and the novels he published when was much younger, he has held cabinet positions under two different prime ministers. He has been elected to both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors. After being elected numerous times as a member of the lower house of the Japanese Diet, he moved on to win governorship of Tokyo three times.
At the age of 78 and with a long and illustrious political and literacy career behind him, he enjoys a unique stardom many would envy. This may have led him to become unafraid to speak his mind, but there is a callousness and carelessness in his statements that is rather alarming.
Considering the fact that the previous “nonexistent youth bill” was defeated in June, you would think Governor Ishihara would be a somewhat more careful and diplomatic in how he goes about persuading its critics that this new draft. Especially since he had to make some awkward admissions last time around.
“In fact, the Governor has misstated the wording of the bill a number of times and has not only admitted himself he hasn’t read the bill carefully but that also he doesn’t really understand what kind of books this bill is going after.”
– from my blog entry in May.
Apparently he feels not need to hide his indignation with those that question the bill.
“It is absolutely outrageous to claim that sales restrictions lead to infringements against freedom of expression.”
He unleashed this statement on Nov. 30th, the day after numerous very famous comic book authors and industry representatives held a press conference opposing the bill and pointing out specific parts of the revision bill that would pose a grave threat to freedom of expression and how specific works would suffer if the bill was fully implemented in its current form.
But this statement was mild compared to what he said on the day of the press conference.
On Nov. 29th, Governor Ishihara is recorded on camera making the following statement:
“Anyone that claims its not harmful to children to draw manga that features the sex life of married couples and such are idiots. Tell them they need to go cool their heads.”
This is Mr. Ishihara’s response to Tetsuya Chiba, Osamu Akimoto, Sou-Ichi Moto and Zyuzou Yamasaki’s voices of alarm. I will not describe in detail the careers of these four men, but will point out that they are highly respected and have won many awards in their manga careers. These people are not “low-end porn artists”. They are the giants of the industry that have entertained millions of people and occupy positions many manga authors aspire to.
Either Governor Ishihara didn’t understand the grievances that are being publicized by the authors or is claiming anyone that dare oppose this bill are porn peddlers to children.
No wait, it gets better.
On Dec. 3rd, the Governor received a petition from certain PTA groups (it should be noted that there appears to be some division among the PTA groups whether to support this bill or not) to press forward with the revision of the youth bill so that anime and manga will be subjected to stiffer regulation.
Replying to their request, Governor Ishihara stated:
“It’s not just about children. We’ve got homosexuals casually appearing on even television. Japan has become far too untamed. I’ll go forward with [this bill] with a sense of mission in heart.”
The Governor has stated elsewhere that “An effort to rectify the situation where manga that should not be available to children are stacked right next to regular books at the retailers must not be delayed any longer.”
It almost sounds as if he feels Japanese society is on the verge of anarchy, and Tokyo’s efforts to reign-in decadent morals of unruly manga authors is the last bastion of civility before an orgy of sex crimes and social unrest will break loose and destroy life as we know it.
While I respect his courage to speak his mind and the many achievements he has won in his life, I really do wonder about some of the statements he carelessly throws out. I wish I could sit down with him and have a civilized conversation with him because at this rate, his contentions regarding the current youth bill is simply making a volatile situation worse by being confrontational and unreservedly self-righteous. He is not an ignorant man, but I have a suspicion that he may have some misconceptions.
I’ll continue to add on to this entry when ever interesting statements from the Governor is reported.