Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ultra-rightists and free speech

These thugs have always been around in Japan, most have seen the most viable example of them driving around like toy Nazis in their sound trucks attacking anyone and anything which displeased their extremist views. Politician or journals who displeased them could look forward to the nutters sitting their sound trucks in front of their victim's home and blaring it all day and night. The "police" would very rarely interfere because they did not want to infringe on the thug's right of free speech. At other times, opponents of the Emperor worshipers were physically assaulted---even murdered---offices firebombed, or as happened last August to a opposition politician, homes burned. One rarely hears criticism of this by LDP politicians---Koizumi took weeks to condemn the arson on the home of Mr. Kato and his 97 year old mother. You get the idea that he did not sincerely feel it was something that he needed to criticize.

Of course recently, the government has been actively pushing the country to the right, as have populist writers. This is having a very obvious chilling effect on free speech and criticism of government policies.

Today's Japan Times reports:

It's "a distorted kind of nationalism that does not tolerate argument," said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Tokyo's Sophia University.

A more assertive extremist fringe is believed behind the trend. The country's estimated 10,000 ultra-rightists, who espouse hardline stances in territorial disputes with neighboring countries and a rose-tinted view of Japan's past militarism, have become increasingly violent in recent years, the National Police Agency said in its annual report last year.

At the same time, national pride is in fashion again. The government has passed a law requiring patriotic education, pushed for a revision of the pacifist Constitution and upgraded the Defense Agency into a ministry.

You can read the entire story here.

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