KYOTO – Osaka Gov. and Nippon Ishin no Kai leader Ichiro Matsui is suing Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama for allegedly damaging his honor through tweets that seemed to imply Matsui was a dictator.
The comments were originally made last October, after a female high school student filed a suit against the Osaka Prefectural Government alleging her school had demanded she dye her naturally brown hair black.
That month Yoneyama said through his Twitter account that the Osaka governor is ultimately responsible for matters in the prefecture’s schools, and that the directive to dye her hair appeared to be in line with a Nippon Ishin leader who attacks other party members voicing different opinions, forcing them to be obedient. Matsui was named in the tweet.
That sparked a series of angry tweets over the following days between Yoneyama and Matsui, with the Osaka governor demanding an explanation and telling the Niigata governor that he, as a public servant, had to be prepared to take responsibility for his comments. Yoneyama replied that his tweets were not referring to Matsui.
Matsui is seeking ¥5.5 million from Yoneyama for damaging his honor, saying the Niigata governor’s tweets helped convey the impression that he was a dictator within the party. He told reporters Thursday that despite mistaken information in Yoneyama’s tweets, he had yet to apologize.
“He needs to properly reflect on the insults to myself and to Nippon Ishin,” Matsui said.
Yoneyama, however, told reporters in Niigata on Thursday that he had a hard time understanding why Matsui was taking him to court.
“I wrote any number of times that he had misread it and I was not talking about him. It was a justified comment about politics. What about freedom of expression?” Yoneyama said.
The girl’s case made international headlines, and she also alleged that the dye was damaging her hair and scalp. Her high school, Kaifukan, said its policy was to ban students from dyeing or bleaching their hair.
An Osaka Prefectural Board of Education survey last year showed that about 80 percent of the prefecture’s 137 high schools had requested that students who do not have naturally black hair to state the original color, but that for the past three years there were no examples of an official school directive being issued to have the color changed.