TOPDisabled Rights Advocate Hirotada Ototake Ends Political Bid

Disabled Rights Advocate Hirotada Ototake Ends Political Bid

By Alec Jordan

Hirotada Ototake, a renowned author and disabled rights advocate who is also a survivor of tetra-amelia syndrome, has announced that he will not be campaigning for office following the release of a story about his infidelities last week.

Although the 39 year old had not made an official announcement that he was launching a campaign, there were strong indications that he was going to run for the Upper House of the National Diet as a member of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party.

These plans were dashed in the wake of the news that Ototake had been romantically involved with five different mistresses over the past several years. After a story about the affairs was published in the March 24 edition of the weekly tabloid Shukan Shincho, Ototake made a statement saying that his own actions were “a betrayal against my devoted wife and my supporters … a sin so serious I can never fully atone for it while alive.”

In his comments about the multiple affairs, which began some time after the birth of his eldest child in 2008, Ototake said that his marriage had fallen into a rut and he sought comfort in the extramarital flings, the most recent of which took place last year.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, an executive from the LDP announced that the party would not be putting forth Ototake as a candidate, despite their interest in the author and educator as a representative of a “society in which all 100 million people in the nation can play active roles,” which Prime Minister Abe has stated he wants the ruling party to help bring about.

Ototake was born without arms or legs as a result of the congenital condition, but despite his disability, he has worked successfully in a number of different careers – as a sports writer, an elementary school teacher, and a member of Tokyo’s Board of Education, just to name a few. His first book, “Gotai Fumanzoku” (“No One’s Perfect”), was published while he was still a student at Waseda University, and it has gone on to sell 4.8 million copies, making it the second best-selling book in Japan since World War II.

In the media storm that has ensued since the news broke, there have been articles that have presented Ototake as a womanizer and others that have framed the scandal as another embarrassment for the LDP. There have been none so far that have considered the fact that the country is losing a political voice who could speak for many underrepresented minorities in Japan.

You can read the our interview with Hirotada Ototake in the print edition of Tokyo Weekender, which will be out on Friday, April 1. The online version will be posted shortly afterward.

–Alec Jordan