Osaka mayor Hashimoto calls classic Japanese play 'unsatisfactory'
OSAKA -- Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who recently declared he would freeze subsidies to an association for Bunraku, a centuries-old form of puppet theater, expressed his dissatisfaction with a Bunraku show he saw on July 26, describing the performance as "unsatisfactory."
"I understood that this is an art that should be preserved as a classic (art form), but the last scene was plain, and lacked something," Hashimoto told reporters after watching "Sonezaki Shinju" (The love suicides at Sonezaki), a classic play based on the work of renowned 17th-18th century dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon, at the National Bunraku Theatre in Osaka's Chuo Ward on the evening of July 26.
"The staging was unsatisfactory," the mayor added in his comment on the play, which has not been changed since it was reintroduced to the public in 1955. "Does it really have to follow the old script that precisely?"
This is the second time Hashimoto has expressed his dissatisfaction with Bunraku, the first being during his term as Osaka Governor in 2009, when he publicly said he would "never again go to see" a performance.
"For people to truly appreciate a traditional art, they should be able to enjoy it. In a world with taboos, it's difficult for people to express their honest opinions," he said. Hashimoto then suggested that to attract more fans to the art form, its scripts and performances, among other things, should be modernized.
The Osaka Municipal Government recently decided to cut subsidies to the Bunraku Kyokai, an association that promotes Bunraku, to 39 million yen this fiscal year, about 25 percent less than what the city allocated to the association in fiscal 2011.
Hashimoto further said that unless performers agree to having public interviews, the Osaka Municipal Government would not provide further subsidies. The association continues to insist that the interviews should be held privately.
On July 26, after watching the play, Hashimoto visited the performers backstage and held brief talks with them privately, and reportedly again demanded that interviews should be held publicly.
"I believe that the fact that we met under these circumstances is a step forward," said Tozo Tsuruzawa, one of the artists Hashimoto met with. "There are many who are fond of the current way Sonezaki Shinju is performed, and I don't think it is a matter of which is better anyway. Mr. Hashimoto says that if we create something interesting, people will come to watch, but I wonder if that's the right approach to take."
July 27, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
毎日新聞 2012年07月26日 22時17分（最終更新 07月27日 13時20分）
橋下市長は 大阪府知事だった０９年に初めて鑑賞した際、「二度と見にいかない」と酷評。この日は「国民に伝統芸能と感じてもらうためには楽しんでもらわないといけな い。タブーのある世界は率直な意見が出にくい」と指摘し、ファン開拓のため脚本や演出を現代風にアレンジするなどの工夫を求めた。