Ken Hashimoto, Partner of Councilor Eriko Imai, On Defending Tokyo Councilor Keisho Taira | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ken Hashimoto, Partner of Councilor Eriko Imai, On Defending Tokyo Councilor Keisho Taira

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Ken Hashimoto pushes Councilor Eriko Imai’s wheelchair. He is her partner who supports her behind the scenes.

Ken Hashimoto, the younger brother of actress Airi Taira and Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member Keisho Taira, has spoken out in defense of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member.

Some may not immediately recall him, but he is a member of SPEED and a former member of the Kobe City Council who was reportedly involved in a “bullet train affair” with LDP Upper House Representative Eriko Imai in the past.

Six years ago, Hashimoto was reported to have had an affair with Imai, and was subsequently charged with fraud and convicted of receiving 6.9 million yen in political activity expenses. As a result, he resigned from the Kobe City Council. On the other hand, he continued his relationship with Mr. Imai and was seen offering his devoted support during last year’s Upper House election.

Hashimoto’s name popped up on the public stage after a long time in a special vote-opening program on the Internet program “ Channel” on April 9. He was offered the role of commentator for the first half of the nationwide local elections.

Mr. Hashimoto was nervous at the beginning of the program, but he was able to explain about Kanagawa Prefecture Governor Yuji Kuroiwa, who was reelected despite reports of his past infidelity, saying, “This is a choice that only Kuroiwa can make.”

“The people of Kanagawa Prefecture said that Mr. Kuroiwa was the only choice. I can say this because it is me, but that has nothing to do with politics. That was before you became a politician, wasn’t it? Your wife understands.”

He pointed out, citing his own experience.

He also said that he witnessed the victory of Masazumi Goto, a close personal friend of his, in the Tokushima gubernatorial election, and that the old ways of Tokushima are still in place.

“He said he wanted to change Tokushima Prefecture, which had remained unchanged from the past. He had grasped the voice of the citizens. He is handsome inside and out. He is popular with both men and women. I wish him all the best.”

He was overjoyed. The next day, Hashimoto sent another congratulatory tweet to Mr. Goto.

This time, Mr. Hashimoto defended Mr. Taira, who was the subject of an unflattering report in the Shukan Shincho. The Shincho report revealed that Mr. Taira is divorcing his wife, and in the process, some rather shocking allegations of adultery have surfaced.

He told Shukan Shincho on Twitter

“There are many things that are not true, and they are related to highly private matters such as domestic issues and dating relationships,” he said.

The company has responded with a lawsuit against the Shincho on Twitter. He also revealed that he had filed a lawsuit against the magazine for invasion of his privacy. On the Internet, however, the following comments were made,

“So many things that aren’t true, which parts are true?”

Even though he is a public figure.

In response, Hashimoto responded on his Twitter account on March 21

I think, “If we ignore it who then benefits? Only the parties involved can know the truth, right?”

He continued.

It’s a story that should be resolved by the parties concerned. It is nothing more than a de facto private sanction. Although I have a different ideology from Mr. Keisho Taira, I feel too sorry for him. This kind of slander is really not good.

He complained to the media, saying, “This kind of slander is really not good. He is persuasive because he has been hounded by the media for his alleged affair with Imai.”

A sports newspaper reporter in charge of politics commented on Mr. Taira’s allegations.

“The Shincho article also reported that a male acquaintance of Mr. Taira was asked to act as secretary under a false name, and that a political fund balance report was submitted under a false name. If true, this could violate the Public Election Law and the Political Funds Control Law. I think they are accountable for that part of the story,” he said.

Hashimoto’s Twitter feed shows that he is not affiliated with the LDP, to which Imai belongs, but rather with the Japan Innovation Party, which is creating a whirlwind of political controversy. For example, on January 10, he responded to Ishin leader Baba Nobuyuki’s suggestion that the party’s relationship with New Komeito in the upcoming lower house election should be a blank slate.

He said, “That’s right. That’s what the Ishin is all about. That’s what the Restoration Party is all about. The local organizations are going to fall apart.”

On January 20, he predicted that the Kōmeitō would take the position of opposing the proposed revision of Article 9 of the Constitution.

“On the 20th, he predicted that Kōmeitō would oppose the proposed revision of Article 9 of the Constitution. The coalition with Komeito, which is dragging them down, should be dissolved as soon as possible.”

It is speculated that He is making a bitter comment about the LDP without making a discovery about his partner Imai, but he may be thinking of removing Komeito from the coalition and working with the Restoration Party as a complementary force. 

Hashimoto is slowly increasing his presence. Although he has not indicated his intention to challenge for another term in politics, his words and actions suggest that he is in going in that direction. Is it possible that Imai may help Mr. Hashimoto this time?

  • PHOTO Masaaki Saito

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