On August 28, Shinzo Abe resigned as Prime Minister of Japan, due to a relapse of ulcerative colitis. There were mixed reactions about the news. One person who was upset about Abe’s resignation was Yumi Matsutoya.
The night of Abe’s resignation, Yuming hosted her monthly radio show, “Yumi Matsutoya’s All Night Nippon GOLD.” Commenting on the resignation, she said, “I cried a bit watching the television announcement. [The resignation] was really sad… I feel like we share the same values. We’re the same age, and we have the same romantic view of seeing how things are. Even though I’m talking about this due to the resignation, the couple has a strong relationship too.” Yuming further revealed her close ties with the Abe family.
There were mixed reactions to Yuming’s statement, but one in particular has garrned attention. Politicial scientist and Kyoto Seika University professor Shirai Satoshi faced intense criticism over his remarks on his public Facebook account.
Professor Shirai reacted harshly, commenting publicly on his Facebook, “She should have just ended her career early as Yumi Arai (her maiden name)… Rather than doing these sorts of disgusting acts, I honestly think it would be better if she just died than stain her legacy like this. She’s deteriorating just like post-war Japan… Aging is definitely a cruel thing”.
The public reaction was swift. Some commenters agreed with his sentiments, remarking on the current state of affairs and how this reflected negatively on Yuming, but others commented on just how harsh the statements were. Some even went further, saying, “You can’t just tell someone to go die just because they don’t agree with you” and “It is a really scary state of affairs that you can’t even praise Abe a little without being told to go die.”
Others took the opportunity to broaden their personal criticisms of Professor Shirai. Hashimoto Toru, a lawyer, former politician, and political commentator, tweeted, “It would be really hard for Kyoto Seika University to allow Professor Shirai to continue to teach.”
After his resignation announcement, the public is currently reflecting on Abe’s long eight year term. In the midst of the major issues such as the pandemic and economic turmoil, there are now fears of a political power vacuum. There have been articles asking yet again for Abe to be held accountable for his role in the Morikake Scandal.
Professor Shirai published an article in Asahi Shimbun titled “Abe’s 7.5 year Term Is a Dark Stain in Japan’s History”. Given his private sentiments however, it can’t help but be wondered if such articles are influenced by loathing of Abe.
Professor Shirai also attempted to publicly apologize through Facebook. On September 1, in a public statement he announced that he had deleted the offending comment, explaining, “I really love Yuming’s, and particularly Yumi Arai’s, music. (Or rather, I loved her work). To put it simply, I was let down… I wanted to be able to continue to think of her both as a fantastic artist and a respectable public figure, someone who I could respect as an intelligent person. I reacted harshly, and want to apologize for making such statements.”
While Kyoto Seika University has a policy of removing people for “unbecoming public conduct and behavior”, they have yet to respond to the public’s demands to do something about Professor Shirai.
This piece is a guest post, which was translated by Arama! Japan Podcast co-host Hannah.