Michiko Hasegawa, appointed last year by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a seat on new organization NHK’s management board, has reportedly praised the ritual suicide of a high-profile right-wing nationalist, writing in an essay that the traditional self-sacrifice of Shusuke Nomura contributed to the godhood of Japan’s emperor. This piece of writing was reportedly distributed in October, a month before her appointment at NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster.
Hasegawa lauded the suicide of Nomura, an extreme nationalist who killed himself in the offices of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in 1993, the act likely in protest at the mockery targeted to his right-wing group. Japan is known for the act of traditional suicide, which since feudal times has been a way of preserving one’s honor. “It is only to God [the emperor] human beings can offer their own lives,” she wrote in the document, which was posted online in the Wednesday’s edition of the Mainichi Shimbun. “If it is devoted in the truly right way, there could be no better offering. When Mr Shusuke Nomura committed suicide at the Asahi Shimbun headquarters 20 years ago, he offered his death to God,” Hasegawa added in the essay. She concluded that because Nomura offered a prayer to prosper the emperor before killing himself, “His Imperial Highness, even if momentarily, became a living God again, no matter what the ‘Humanity Declaration’ says or what the Japanese Constitution says,” she wrote.
NHK is bound to be embroiled in controversy again with this revelation, which comes so shortly after a fellow NHK executive dismissed the factuality of the Nanking Massacre, saying that it was clearly “propaganda”. That itself came right after the NHK director general turned this spotlight on Japan’s national broadcaster by saying that Japan’s wartime system of sex slavery was “common” at that time.
Even after these controversies, none of these board members have been called by the Japanese government to explain themselves or to retract their statements, this even as the official position of the government of Japan is that the Nanking Massacre really took place. Top cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga said that NHK’s management had every right to express a personal opinion. Suga told reporters on Wednesday that Hasegawa was picked by the government because she is “a leading philosopher and critic” who is an authority on Japanese culture. The public remains fearful, however, that the recent controversies at NHK – one of the world’s biggest broadcasters – is falling in line with Abe’s nationalist leanings.