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East Asian xenophobia
Japanese Nazis Parade Through Tokyo

Members of Japan’s far-right fringe marched through a Tokyo neighborhood last week on the anniversary of Hitler’s birth. “We will recover the honor of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany,” one person shouted. Another proudly celebrated the group’s “success” in spreading its xenophobic message throughout the city. “Anti-Korean and anti-Chinese sentiment has spread through society because we raised our voices,” he said. “We now want to push forward Nazism.” He also suggested Hitler wasn’t so bad after all: “I believe that [the Holocaust] was a policy to separate the Jews who had been threatening the lives of ordinary Germans and to protect the pure blood of the German race.”

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper has the story:

Although young Japanese protesters have recently increased their use of Nazi symbols in demonstrations, the rallies are not targeted at Jews. In their minds, the demonstrators seem to believe that Hitler was justified in trying to protect the German race from a rising threat, and that Nazi-style persecution offers way to save Japan from the increasing power of China and South Korea.

Though small in number, these fringe nationalists are gaining ground in Japan. Last year, in another Tokyo neighborhood, hundreds of people rallied against Korean immigrants, shouting “Let’s kill Koreans!” In March, swastika graffiti appeared in the same neighborhood. Xenophobic books and pamphlets, featuring absurd historical revisionism, have been selling fast. A few popular comic-book series also promote the hatred of foreigners (one is called “Hating the Korea Wave”).

This rightward tilt has had a demonstrable impact on young people’s politics. In Tokyo’s mayoral election this year, a surprisingly high number (24 percent) of voters in their 20s supported the leader of a xenophobic far-right political party. Though most sensible Japanese dismiss the antics of the far right, even some top politicians have flirted with xenophobia and historical revisionism. Needless to say, that hasn’t helped Japan patch up relations with its neighbors.

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  • ShadrachSmith

    The rise of Nationalism in Japan is a good thing. Without defending the bigots among any group, I would note that Japan has never lost a war against China, Japan, Korea or Russia. Watching Japan and China hate on each other is a far better alternative than having them both hate on America.

    The smaller Asian powers feel like it is high time Japan started protecting them from the newly expansionist policies of China. The rise of Japan would create closer military ties with Korea as they unite against the common foe. Japan would then need Korea more and resent Korea less.

    We can sell stuff to all sides 🙂

    • Breif2

      Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 🙂

  • The_Repentant_Curmudgeon

    During the Cold War, the three American networks (but especially CBS) would refer to Brezhnev and the KGB as the USSR’s “far right.” Reagan, the world’s number opponent and diametrically opposed to Brezhnev was also referred to as the “far right” among the American networks. In my opinion, this is because for those television networks, “far right” equated to “things our viewers should regard as bad.”

    I have a 1930’s issue of The New Republic on my desk where one of their writers attended a communist rally where a member of Stalin’s staff gave a speech that left this New Republic writer swooning. No mention of the “far right” in that article. It referred to Stalin as “progressive.”

    So the question is, when a writer uses the term “far right” or “rightwing” what exactly is he trying to convey?

  • ojfl

    Why is it that people always make the mistake of talking about Nazis, Hitler and the “right” together? Hitler was a socialist, not a right winger.

  • Aja Aja

    Those “Korean immigrants” aren’t “immigrants”. They are people who were brought (many were forced laborers) into Japan during WWII, who ended up staying after the war. Most of them were born in Japan and lived all their lives in Japan.

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