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“Asahi Shinbun Readers are Enemies of Japan!”

SNA (Tokyo) — The radicalism of the Japanese far right took something of a new step on January 13 when the prominent writer Naoki Hyakuta went beyond the standard rightwing denunciation of the establishment liberal Asahi Shinbun and attacked anyone who subscribes to or otherwise supports the daily newspaper.

“You can bet your head that if China and Japan were to engage in a military clash, the Asahi Shinbun would be right behind China with 100% support. Not only is the Asahi Shinbun the enemy of Japan, but the readers who support this treasonous newspaper are also the enemies of Japan.”

While his views are highly extreme, Hyakuta is not exactly a marginal figure in Japan. His books sell very well and one of them, The Eternal Zero, which glorified kamikaze pilots, was made into a movie which was a major hit in 2013.

In that same year, Hyakuta was appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Board of Governors of NHK, the national broadcaster. Hyakuta had supported Abe’s reelection in 2012 as Liberal Democratic Party president, and the NHK appointment appeared to be a payoff to an ideological ally. Hyakuta resigned from the NHK board in 2015 after a short and controversial tenure.

The Asahi Shinbun responded to Hyakuta’s provocative tweet with a tweet of their own.

“Mr. Naoki Hyakuta has written that ‘Asahi readers are also enemies of Japan.’ We strongly protest this statement as being discriminatory and taking a hostile view toward the readers of particular newspaper. We will continue to show deep respect for constructive and diverse opinions, and aim to build the newspaper together with our readers.”

Hyakuta rejected the notion that his tweet should be characterized as “discriminatory.”

More than seven million people subscribe to the Asahi Shinbun.

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