Weekly’s Hashimoto slur ousts Asahi exec

Kyodo

The president of the publisher of the weekly Shukan Asahi has quit over an article that cast Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s family background in a negative light.

Mitsuru Shinozaki, now acting president of Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc., visited Osaka City Hall and offered “deep apologies” to Hashimoto, informing the mayor of President Hideo Kotoku’s exit effective Monday.

Shinozaki told Hashimoto that the company “lacked consideration for human rights.”

The article, coauthored by prizewinning nonfiction writer Shinichi Sano and published in the magazine’s Oct. 26 edition, said Hashimoto’s father was a yakuza and from an area in Osaka Prefecture associated with descendants of “burakumin” feudal-era outcasts.

The article immediately drew a fierce protest from the outspoken mayor, who doubles as leader of a new political party that has started to build influence on the political scene ahead of the next general election.

To take responsibility for the story, the publisher said the magazine’s editor-in-chief at the time, Daishi Kawabata, will be suspended from work for three months, in addition to sacking Kotoku.

A third-party panel at the Asahi Shimbun group concluded that the article was discriminatory and the publisher made “an impermissible mistake as a media organization.”

The panel also said it “lacked factual accuracy.”

Hashimoto said he is now satisfied with the Asahi Shimbun group’s review of the article and its apologies. He temporarily refused interviews from reporters of the Asahi Shimbun, the parent company of the weekly’s publisher, following the release of the article.

“I had no intention of encouraging discrimination and class systems . . . but I must admit I was careless,” writer Sano said in a statement. “I deeply apologize for causing trouble.”