A storm appears to be headed toward Osaka. As the article below notes, domestic politics may not long favor the city. The Moritomo Gakuen scandal is centered on Osaka and its ultra-rightwing politics. Osaka is also the epicenter of Japan's denier history toward the Comfort Women. Successive majors have been outspoken
deniers of Pacific War history—even threatening to end the sister city
relationship with San Francisco over the American city’s refusal to accept the
Osaka mayors' false and pernicious construction of Comfort Women history.
The Abe's government has shown extraordinary favoritism to the region and its politicians who have helped the LDP maintain their Diet majority. Recently, Tokyo selected Osaka to be the host city for the G20
leaders summit in 2019. The government is also promoting Osaka to the Bureau of International Expositions to be the site for Expo 2025. By doing this, Tokyo is demanding that the rest of the world ignore the region's infamous war history and its modern deniers.
A new Japanese government will not be able to long tolerate Osaka as a world outlier.
Moritomo scandal threatens Osaka leaders too
By Eric Johnston, Staff Writer
Japan Times, March 17, 2018
OSAKA – “A man once thoroughly endued with these three
qualities of lying, impudence, and ingratitude will, I believe, scarce want any
other titles to preferment and grandeur.” — Henry Fielding, from a satirical
article on the traits of successful politicians, 1740
Over a year after it first blew up in Osaka, then went to
Tokyo and languished, the Moritomo Gakuen scandal came roaring back with a
vengeance earlier this month, shaking Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s
administration to the core.
The “Teflon prime minister,” as Abe is dubbed by critics and
admirers for his political durability, may finally have run out of luck. His
finance minister, Taro Aso, whose ministry admitted it rewrote, deleted, or
falsified records related to the scandal is facing intense pressure from the
opposition, and members of his own party, to resign — and soon.
Without his friend Aso by his side, Abe will head into the
September elections for Liberal Democratic Party president (and thus prime
minister) weakened and a lame duck unlikely to be granted a third consecutive
term — all because of a scandal that just would not go away.
The key questions still unanswered boil down to who gave the
school an unprecedented discount on the land it wanted, why Moritomo received
special treatment, who decided to give it that treatment and who was involved
in the subsequent “editing” of ministry documents.
At the national level, those questions involve the prime
minister and his wife, the finance minister and senior Finance Ministry
officials and at least three Diet members. They include Takeo Hiranuma, the
ultra-right-wing Liberal Democratic Party representative from Okayama, LDP
veteran Yoshitada Konoike, a scandal-plagued politician from neighboring Hyogo
Prefecture, and former Upper House LDP lawmaker Issei Kitagawa, who is from
Osaka. Former Moritomo head Yasunori Kagoike’s claim that he was betrayed by
lying, impudent, ungrateful politicians and bureaucrats sounds a bit more
But one influential politician of interest to Osaka was not
in the documents: Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui.
Given that, in Diet testimony, Kagoike alleged the person
who betrayed him the most was Matsui, Osaka’s media are now aggressively
pursuing the Moritomo Gakuen “Osaka angle.” And they are asking what might have
been going on between Matsui, the Kinki bureau of the Finance Ministry, Abe,
Aso, Hiranuma and their friends in the conservative lobby group Japan
Conference (Nippon Kaigi), reference to which was also originally deleted from
Finance Ministry documents.
Matsui insists he had nothing to do with influencing the
Kinki bureau to cut a deal with Kagoike and no evidence has surfaced to suggest
otherwise. But, politically, he has two problems.
The first is local. More questions about Moritomo makes it
ever more difficult for Matsui and his supporters to realize their integration
of Osaka city, which is once again under discussion and still faces intense
The second problem is Osaka’s relationship — and the Nippon
Ishin no Kai party’s relationship — with the Abe wing of the LDP.
If a splintering LDP leads to Abe stepping down, either now
or later, then Matsui and Nippon Ishin must deal with another prime minister,
one likely to be less friendly.
Various LDP leaders are now garnering attention as possible
successors to Abe. They include former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, former
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Internal Affairs Minister Seiko Noda. In
Osaka, Ishiba, who is from Tottori Prefecture and has strong connections in the
Kansai region, has already reached out to younger LDP members who are battling
with Matsui and Nippon Ishin (some of whom are former LDP members).
How all of this plays out depends on what additional
revelations there are about the Moritomo scandal. But in Osaka, as well as
Tokyo, politicians and bureaucrats are running for cover, desperate to avoid a
resurgent scandal most thought had long since been overcome.