Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The extreme right and its LDP enablers

Japan Focus has an article expanding on the Japan Times version's coverage of right-wing atrocity deniers in the LDP and their connection with the most extreme right groups and thugs in Japan. Most recently, they have tried to shut down the screening of the film Yasukuni while at the same time denying that they want to shut it down:

In a now familiar pattern, ultra-nationalists who follow in the shadow of establishment politicians, threatened retribution against anyone who handled the movie. Anonymous bloggers posted contact details for the distribution company, the Japan Arts Council and every theatre showing it. Anonymous death threats have been issued against Dragon Films, the company that produced "Yasukuni."

The burying of Li’s film follows a string of similar incidents. In February, Tokyo’s Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa cancelled a conference by the Japan Teacher’s Union – a popular ultra-right target -- after learning that 100 right-wing sound trucks turned up to last year’s conference venue. The hotel’s decision has been bitterly attacked by union officials. Fear of intimidation ensures that there are still no Japan screenings planned for any of the dozen or so foreign movies made to commemorate the anniversary of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre by the Imperial Japanese Army. (And remember former PM Abe's role in quashing a NHK program concerning "comfort women.")

“My sense is that we have entered a very dangerous period for freedom of expression and press freedom in this country,” says Tajima Yasuhiko, a professor of journalism in Tokyo’s Sophia University. “That is the background to these cases. The idea that people are entitled to express different opinions and views is withering."

...we felt we had no choice after considering the safety of our customers,” explains...a spokesman for Q-AX Cinema in Shibuya. But Director Li rejects these claims and says only political pressure explains the sudden decision by all four Tokyo cinemas to pull the plug. Full article here.

Noooooooooooo. This can't be. It's alarmist. Everyone knows that Japan is a different country than it was before WW2. OK, that is obviously true, but how different? How deep does that go? Have these nutjobs of the right-wing changed? How committed to democracy is a country in which the democratic form of government was imposed on it? Yes, there was a short period of the beginnings of democracy before the war--the Taisho Democracy---but it did only lasted a short 5 years.

If the far right and its LDP allies continue to gain influence, what kind of government will Japan have? We keep hearing that the days of the LDP are numbered. Of course we have heard that for 20 years. Let's hope this time that the beginning of a real two party system in Japan is not just another fantasy like it has been in the past.

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