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.