Running for election in Japan isn’t easy. But when your face is shown alongside titles like “pervert” and “molester,” it’s probably a lot harder than it ought to be.
Japan’s political system is a mess right now and, despite having seen six prime ministers come and go in as many years, the country is headed for an election next month, with one-time PM Shinzo Abe putting himself forward to be re-elected.
The politician was made a laughing-stock earlier this week, however, when the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) early morning TV show Asazuba accidentally displayed Mr. Abe’s photo alongside a news report about a sex offender’s arrest.
Despite having no relation to the incident whatsoever, Mr. Abe’s face filled viewers’ screens along with the shocking titles, prompting the nation to spit out its corn flakes, or at the very least dribble a bit of natto onto the table.
Suffice to say, the politician was not pleased, and, suspecting this to be part of a “campaign of negativity”, took to his public Facebook page to tear TBS a new one…
“This morning on the TBS show Asazuba, when a newscaster reported on a story regarding the apprehension of a molester, a photo of me was shown. Images of this blunder can now be seen clearly across the internet,” a red-faced Abe wrote. “Have the slander campaigns already begun!? If this were merely an accident, it would be proper for the TV station to give me a personal apology, but as of yet I haven’t heard a single word.”
As Mr. Abe points out later in his statement, during the broadcast the newscaster acknowledged that the incorrect image had been displayed, but merely stated that the photo was “unrelated” and did not refer to the politician by name. As yet neither Mr. Abe nor his office have received any form of apology for the potentially campaign-damaging blunder, and have been left with a bunch of photos circulating the internet showing the man’s face next to the word “pervert”. Hardly the best start to a campaign.
But with TV stations broadcasting 24 hours a day, there are always bound to be little hiccups! Perhaps Mr. Abe is being a little over-sensitive here?
Then again, perhaps not:
“This incident comes after TBS displayed a photograph of me during a broadcast about Unit 731, also at a time when I was running for election.”
Unit 731 was the Japanese Imperial army’s infamous chemical research and development unit during World War II, which is said to have been responsible for the murder of thousands of Chinese during the course of chemical weapons experiments. The mere mention of the name brings up terrible images and the entire subject is, understandably incredibly delicate. Not, as you’d imagine, something that an aspiring politician wishes to have his or her name associated with…
Mr. Abe and his party firmly believe that TBS is part of some conspiratorial group hoping to subtly alter the nation’s perception of the politician We’re not so sure that this wasn’t simply a genuine production error and that Mr. Abe is being a little paranoid. But thanks to this incident we’ve learned one thing for sure: all this time Abe’s been lying to us about not being on Facebook. That’s him off our Christmas card list!
[ Read in Japanese ]