On the evening of June 10, a woman in a wheelchair and a man pushing her were in the precincts of Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, where inbound demand has yet to return. Imai and Hashimoto are both members of the House of Councillors and will be up for reelection in the Upper House election on July 10.
“Imai and Hashimoto were reported in July 2017 in Shukan Shincho for their ‘Shinkansen holding hands affair.’ The affair led to Mr. Hashimoto’s divorce from his wife and the closing of his dental clinic,” said a reporter for a national newspaper.
(A reporter for a national newspaper) Hashimoto has been pushing Imai’s wheelchair with great enthusiasm. Imai is still in a wheelchair because she was seriously injured at a bullfighting festival last May. Imai paraded through the Nakamise district of Asakusa, talking with voters and posing for pictures. Hashimoto was always right there with her.
Hashimoto is in and out of Imai’s office, supporting her political activities. Imai seems to be more in love with him and says, ‘Mr. Hashimoto is smart and knows everything. Within the Aso Faction, to which Imai belongs, it is said that Imai and Hashimoto will join the family this September. It is believed that after winning the upper house election this time, they will submit their marriage licence when they make their rounds to thank people for their election.
Imai also divorced in 2007. It has been five years since their “holding hands affair.” On June 16, we directly interviewed Imai, who came to Yokohama Station for her speech at the street.
–This is Friday. Is it true that you and Mr. Hashimoto will get married in September?
No matter how many times we asked, Imai remained silent. On this day, too, it was Mr. Hashimoto pushing her wheelchair.
–Mr. Hashimoto, is it true?
Mr. Hashimoto likewise gave no answer. They got into the car and drove away.
A letter of inquiry was later sent to Imai’s office, but no response was received by the deadline.
Political commentator Harumi Arima said.
In this Upper House election, the LDP’s national proportional district is expected to have 21 to 22 members. Unless something goes wrong, Imai is unlikely to lose the election. However, her backer, Akiko Santo (80), will retire in three years, and if she serves a second term in the upper house, she could become vice minister. We cannot continue to rely on name recognition forever, can we?
Overcoming the fateful day of the Upper House election, the two will go beyond the farthest clouds.
From the July 8, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Masaaki Saito