Thursday, October 07, 2010

No objections voiced as Japan turns extremist

At least that is what I gather from reading this fine, well-written, and thoroughly researched piece from a professional paid journalist for the Globe and Mail (Canada).*

Somehow, I had missed the significance of the rise of the extreme right in Japan. I have even missed the rise itself, thinking it no more than the usual rightists and fellow travelers rattling off their poison. I never noticed that the anti-foreign sentiment---although always present among some, including the media and gov't---was any worse than it had been under Koizumi and Abe when it seemed that neither the government or the media could resist labeling crime, criminal tendencies, and non-Japanese in the same category. And of course we have heard the old bigot Ishihara and his oral bowel movements for about a million years.

But the Globe and Mail has found that things are turning truly sinister. So sinister that even the Old School extreme right is concerned. Concerned not with the beliefs of the newer more extreme nutjobs, but with the way they express their beliefs:

“These Net right-wingers have no rules, no restrictions … . I’m against this kind of hate speech, these ugly comments. Their thoughts and ideas are okay, but the way they express them is not,” said Mr. Kimura, whose own Issuikai movement made headlines earlier this year by hosting an international gathering of right-wingers...

Noting that some nutjobs reacted to the Senkaku incident by the usual "smokebombs" at an offending foreign consulate; concealed weapons near the residences of non-rightwing-extremist politicians; anti-Chinese demonstrations etc, our fine reporter observed that these run-of-the-mill events:

... highlight a tide of rising nationalism that is just one of the new social ills afflicting a country that 20 years ago was the richest** and most stable** on the planet.

But an even more frightening bit of evidence was uncovered by that sharp-eyed fellow, while watching (?) a demo of 2700 folks organized by the web-based New School extremists with whose ends the Old School agrees:

“Throw illegal immigrants into Tokyo Bay!” he yelled to loud cheers from his fellow marchers and silent stares from shoppers who paused to watch the procession. If anyone disagreed with the sentiment, no one said so publicly. [Emphasis mine]

There it is. I had mostly missed it. I knew of the newer more openly racist*** and extreme groups and their still small but reportedly growing numbers. I knew that many people in a historically xenophobic country exhibited xenophobia to some degree or another. I knew of the anti-Chinese sentiment, especially after Senkaku, but I never had evidence of the silent acceptance of extreme beliefs by the public until I read that last sentence.

Shoppers did not publicly disagree with a large group of noisy nutjobs!!!! What else can one conclude from this but that they must have agreed?

Somehow though, I as a foreign resident do not feel like "other foreigners":

...while other foreigners – including some long-term residents of Japan – say they also feel increasingly unwelcome, and complain of police harassment and rules that prevent non-Japanese from renting homes or gaining professional tenure.

for I don't see anything especially new. I don't feel "increasingly unwelcome." I never felt especially wanted nor loved here to begin with. I will have to keep a closer eye on this evil trend.

I must admit that I learned something about myself from reading this piece. I too, am an anti-foreign extremist, for had I been at the demo, I doubt that I would have publicly disagreed with the goofballs either. Blinky Ishihara, old buddy, lets go out for a few drinks...

*A black sun rises in a declining Japan, by Mr. Mark Mackinnon.

**Huh and double huh?

***The more openly racist (is that possible?) newbees reject the idea that their racism is racist.


  1. "I don't see anything especially new. I don't feel "increasingly unwelcome." I never felt especially wanted nor loved here to begin with."

    I think this is the point of the matter. If you've lived here for awhile and aren't honeymooning, you already know the discrimination exists and have experienced it. People who suddenly discover it, read about it, experience, or acknowledge it. It's not that it is "new". It's that it is "new to them", and suddenly they write about it as if it represents a change. It's really the same old, same old stink that someone woke up and got a whiff of.

  2. Yes, that plus the fact that the Internet still seems to be all new to some in the media. Never heard of 2chan(nel).

  3. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Still one of the worst Japan news stories for a while, though

  4. I am beginning to believe that almost any sorty about Japan in the old tyme media can be safely assumed to be nonsense. Any story about foriegn country has to be very suspect.

  5. Jeffrey1:07 AM

    An acquaintance who I met him through a Japanese friend from grad school (who used to be a journalist for the Asahi Shimbum), is a regular contributor to the Japan Times had forwarded the article to me last week. This acquaintance lives in Tokyo and has been in Japan since the mid-60s, so I trust his judgment. When I asked whether he thought the piece had any merit, this was his response.

    "MacKinnon is a newbie, and they tend to rediscover the wheel here in their first six months. Expect him to file future stories soon on such amazing new things as host clubs, love hotels and the tsukiji fish market."

    He later appended this with "I found out he's based in Beijing, not Japan. That explains it all."

  6. Yes, that does explain it.