Trump and Hashimoto

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Trump and Hashimoto

One is 69 years old and the other is 46. One is American and the other is Japanese, but they are just too similar. They are Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. They have at least five common traits.

First, both are eloquent. With words, they quickly gain attention. Trump, for more than 10 years, hosted a TV show, “The Apprentice.” Hashimoto has appeared on “Legal Information Center” on TV Nihon since his early 30s. He is a fast speaker, and journalists have a hard time typing his remarks. But when written, they make a fine article.

Second, neither had political experience, but they used it to position themselves smartly. Trump said foolish leaders in Washington are messing up the country, while Hashimoto’s specialty is vicarious satisfaction.

Third, they have a flair for the dramatic. They have a natural talent for picking topics and making a show of it. Hashimoto chose the “comfort women,” and Trump chose illegal immigrants from Mexico. As they have many fans, they also have many haters.

Fourth, they both habitually degrade women. After a TV debate on Aug. 6, Trump insulted a host who asked him aggressive questions.

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump said. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”

He appeared to be suggesting that she was having her period.

Hashimoto is not much different. In addition to his unacceptable comments on comfort women, he once advised the U.S. commander in Okinawa to make the most of the local sex industry.

Both of them, of course, did not apologize.

Lastly is their narcissism. Former French President Charles de Gaulle once said a politician is often surprised to see other people trusting him, because he himself does no trust his own words. Hashimoto is the classic example. He is so narcissistic, he acts as if he is the president of Osaka. Blinded by his approval rating, Trump is not much different.

Both Trump and Hashimoto are the result of polarization. In the United States and Japan, conservatives are becoming ultra conservatives, and liberals are becoming extreme liberals. The trend affects both the voters and political parties. And that led the two men to the political stage.

But there is a clear difference between the two countries.

In the TV debate by the conservative Fox News, sharp questions bombarded the Republican candidates. Despite Trump’s insults and outrageous remarks, the debate host, Megyn Kelly, questioned him calmly. It was a thorough vetting.

It was clearly different from Japan, where a politician’s outrageous answer is often let go with the host’s reply of, “Oh, I see.”

The author is the JoongAng Ilbo’s Washington Bureau chief.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 11, Page 30


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