Sunday, August 29, 2010

Japanese Racists, Nationalists Adopt American Tea Party Tactics. Sign: "This is Not a White Country."

In Japan a movement of "Net far right" ultranationalists has taken a direct cue from the tea party movement. There is a conservative commonality of fears, racism and liberal hatred that is undeniable. Check out the following stunning turn of events in Japan over the last year:

NY Times: The group of about a dozen Japanese men gathered in front of the school gate, using bullhorns to call the students cockroaches and Korean spies … the protests also signaled the emergence here of a new type of ultranationalist group … The groups are openly anti-foreign … Since first appearing last year (me: tea party’s too), their protests have been directed … Koreans, Chinese and other Asian workers, Christian churchgoers and even Westerners in Halloween costumes … a few dozen shouting demonstrators waving placards that said, “This is not a white country.”

Local news media have dubbed these groups the Net far right … young men, many of whom hold the low-paying part-time or contract jobs that have proliferated in Japan in recent years … the Net right’s main purpose seems to be venting frustration, both about Japan’s diminished stature and in their own personal economic difficulties.

They are also different from Japan’s existing ultranationalist groups, which are a common sight even today in Tokyo, wearing paramilitary uniforms and riding around in ominous black trucks with loudspeakers that blare martial music … which has roots going back to at least the 1930s rise of militarism in Japan.

Sociologists describe them as serving as a sort of unofficial mechanism for enforcing conformity in postwar Japan, singling out Japanese who were seen as straying too far to the left … the largest group appears to be the cumbersomely named Citizens Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan, known here by its Japanese abbreviation, the Zaitokukai … gained notoriety when it staged noisy protests at the home and junior high school of a 14-year-old Philippine girl, demanding her deportation after her parents were sent home for overstaying their visas. More recently, the Zaitokukai picketed theaters showing “The Cove,” an American documentary about dolphin hunting here that rightists branded as anti-Japanese.

Many seemed to embrace conspiracy theories taken from the Internet that China or the United States were plotting to undermine Japan … it is still largely run by its founder and president who goes by the assumed name of Makoto Sakurai … he said he had modeled his group after another overseas political movement, the Tea Party in the United States. He said he had studied videos of Tea Party protests, and shared with the Tea Party an angry sense that his nation had gone in the wrong direction because it had fallen into the hands of leftist politicians, liberal media as well as foreigners. “They have made Japan powerless to stand up to China and Korea,”

Sound familiar? And it’s all coming from the paranoid, fear consumed conservative right wing. With the same characteristics; Conspiracy theories, demanding deportation of foreigners, a mechanism for enforcing conformity, singling out those who stray to far left, frustration in their personal economic difficulties, ultranationalist and racist “this is not a white country” signs, maybe we should reexamine how seriously we take the bizarre behavior of the movement or at least try to get them treatment.
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