JT on hate speech and GOJ’s connections to organized crime: “Yakuza do what Abe Cabinet’s Yamatani can’t”

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Hi Blog. Drawing to a close this curlicue about the PM Abe Administration and hate speech in Japan, here’s an excellent article by Jake Adelstein in the Japan Times about Cabinet Member Yamatani Eriko’s inability to disavow the hate group Zaitokukai, and her lying to the FCCJ last month (discussed in our previous blog entry) about her awareness and connections to it. I am very pleased that how NJ are treated in Japan is being made into a major issue that shows the misguidance of ever putting Abe back in power. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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NATIONAL / MEDIA | DARK SIDE OF THE RISING SUN
Yakuza do what Abe Cabinet pick can’t (excerpt)
BY JAKE ADELSTEIN
THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 4, 2014, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/04/national/media-national/yakuza-abe-cabinet-pick-cant/

In most countries, police officers and criminals are supposed to be on opposite sides of the law, especially the higher up the chain of command you go, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn’t appear to think this is necessary.

Last month, photographs surfaced showing several members of Abe’s new Cabinet socializing with members of an anti-Korean hate group known as Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (more commonly known as Zaitokukai). The appearance of such images raises some disturbing issues.

Founded circa 2006, Zaitokukai is an ultranationalistic, right-wing group that seeks to eliminate the “special privileges” extended to non-Japanese who have been granted Special Foreign Resident status. These people are predominantly ethnic Koreans, many of whom were conscripted and brought to Japan as slave labor in the 1930s and ’40s. Zaitokukai also hates other non-Japanese as well — it just has a special hatred for Koreans.

In July, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the government to crack down on the growing number of hate-speech incidents targeting non-Japanese. The committee made special mention of Zaitokukai in its report and called on Japan to introduce legislation that specifically punishes hate crimes. The U.S. State Department has also named Zaitokukai in its annual human rights white paper. However, Zaitokukai isn’t on a U.S. blacklist like, say, the Sumiyoshi-kai yakuza syndicate — or, at least, not yet.

The National Police Agency has even touched upon Zaitokukai-related issues. “In parts of Tokyo and Osaka heavily populated by Korean-Japanese, racist right-wing groups have engaged in radical demonstrations, drawing the attention of society to the hate-speech problem,” the agency wrote in its white paper on public safety.

And yet Eriko Yamatani, the newly appointed chairman of the National Public Safety Commission that oversees the National Police Agency, doesn’t seem to be aware of Zaitokukai’s existence nor does she seem to believe hate speech is a problem. When photographs of her posing alongside several Zaitokukai members were uncovered by the Shukan Bunshun weekly tabloid, she said that she didn’t know the name of the group, and didn’t know the former Kansai bureau chief of Zaitokukai who was standing in the same photo. The man in question, however, claims to have known her for more than a decade in a recent interview with the tabloid. What’s more, Yamatani has appeared in a newsletter he previously published (even penning a column in it) and worked with various Zaitokukai members at other political rallies.

At a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Sept. 25, Yamatani denied that the weekly’s article was true and alleged she had been misquoted. However, when she was asked to publicly repudiate Zaitokukai, she refused — three times.

Shukan Bunshun last week published a follow-up article and included an audio recording of its interview with her, suggesting Yamatani did indeed lie at her news conference. It also added a proverb to its coverage: “All thieves start as liars.”

But lying to the press is not a crime, nor is hate speech illegal in Japan. Hate crimes are not illegal either. That said, generating profit for organized crime is something else.

Zaitokukai has had a tight relationship with Nihonseinensha, a right-wing group that is part of the Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest yakuza syndicate in the country. In testimony in the Diet, the National Police Agency acknowledged that Nihonseinensha’s top adviser was also a senior figure in the Sumiyoshi-kai.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/04/national/media-national/yakuza-abe-cabinet-pick-cant/

8 comments on “JT on hate speech and GOJ’s connections to organized crime: “Yakuza do what Abe Cabinet’s Yamatani can’t”

  • I tried to post this comment on the Japan Times under this article, in the comments section. Surprise, surprise, it was deleted, and instead, the comment of some troll with the War Flag of the Imperial Japanese Army was approved. Here is my comment:

    “I’ve finally reached my breaking point this year. I can’t live here anymore. This is not the country that I came to years ago.

    First, without even getting into foreigner issues, there is the erosion of worker’s rights. Abe seeks to abolish paid overtime and make employees much easier to fire, so basically, you can watch karoshi (death by overwork) and suicide cases go up significantly from now on if these “reforms” take effect. He has also raised the sales tax by 3% already, plans to raise it a further 2%, and as if that weren’t enough, he targets inflation, something that most sane world leaders try to avoid, not promote. He has also weakened the yen, from in the 80s to the US dollar when he first assumed power to 109 as of today. But that isn’t all. Allegedly, this is for the betterment of the economy. The funny thing is, recently, a study showed that the economy has contracted 7.1% year-on-year, so obviously these policies are not working.

    Second, let’s talk about foreigner rights. Let’s see. First of all, some of his cabinet members, whom he recently appointed, have ties to the National Socialist Workers’ Party (the Japanese Nazi party) and Zaitokukai, a hate group. The Supreme Court has ruled that even foreigners who have lived in Japan for 82 years and paid their taxes faithfully, even if they were born here, cannot receive welfare (something they had previously been able to do since 1954). What’s next? Are they going to deny our pension payouts, too, or our National Health Insurance payments, after we have already paid into them for decades? Because seriously, with the logic of the 2014 Supreme Court decision (it doesn’t matter how much you paid in, you’re a foreigner), I do not think it is a huge leap to assume they will eventually do the same thing with pension and National Health Insurance.

    Third, let’s talk about foreign relations. Shinzo Abe actively spits in the face of two of his military allies, the United States and South Korea, particularly the latter. He knew that it would offend South Koreans if he visited Yasukuni Shrine, but he did it anyway, even just shortly after they bravely flew their fighter planes in support of Japan during the Senkaku Islands tensions. He repeatedly denies history. But…at least he’s cozying up with North Korea and Russia, two countries that are sure to have Japan’s best interests in mind, right? He has already lifted sanctions on North Korea in exchange for information on a tiny handful of abductees. Surprise, surprise, North Korea has not given out any significant amount of information. They sure are enjoying the lifted sanctions, though. Those help their totalitarian regime stay in power and help to to fund their nuclear program. He also likes to negotiate with Putin, a real reliable guy (by the way, Japan and Russia never signed a formal peace treaty, so maybe they should work on that first)…

    So, I should just wait until Shinzo Abe loses power, and then I can be happy here, right? Well, the trouble is, Japan loves Abe, and when he loses power, they’ll probably just vote in another far-right-wing LDP PM. He has an approval rating of 64%. It’s not just this madman, it’s the 64% of the population that keep him in power. The LDP has won every single election since the end of World War II except for two, so Japan is basically a one-party state, and that one party is a far-right-wing party. Things cannot be expected to improve.

    I think I’m leaving. I’m either leaving this year or early next year. I’m going to go back to my home country, and then I will try to relaunch myself in another country that is headed in a more positive direction, that has definite anti-discrimination laws on the books, where children learn in school that racism is wrong*, and that is not headed by a madman.

    *Japanese children learn that ‘racism’ is this thing that white people did to oppress black people in the American South in the ’50s and ’60s. They do not learn about racism in their own country. The result is that they don’t know what racism is. They graduate high school and don’t understand how ‘Japanese Only’ signs at sports events or restaurants are racist. These kids will be the leaders of Japan someday–long after I am dead. This is not a problem that will be solved satisfactorily in my lifetime.”

  • Charles – that is quite a persuasive argument you make there.
    Since individual rights mean little in Japan, the denial of benefits to a “few” foreign individuals is not even an issue that most Japanese citizens are aware of. If they knew, they still would not care.

    As for your many reasons for leaving: Unless you can make more elsewhere, I would say stay, build your nest egg, and plan your departure.

    Note: The overall plan for Japan’s export economy involves a weaker yen. And so you can count on this happening soon. I saw one article that suggested 200 yen/USD in 2 years. But these things are hard to forecast accurately.

    Right wing tendencies in Japan are hard to suppress, once they gain momentum.

    Best of luck to you.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Finally!
    Abe finds his voice in support of women politicians facing sexist heckling!

    Yes, you read me right, after Abe’s deafening silence in the two cases of female politicians faces sexist jeers from his own party earlier this year, Abe now takes swift action and condemns sexist comments!

    What’s different about this case?

    Well, aside from the fact that it’s not Abe’s LDP making the alleged verbal abuse, the ‘sexist jeering’ was simply an opposition accusation that Yamatani has links to the Zaitokukai that she refuses to denounce!

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/08/national/politics-diplomacy/diet-heckler-insinuates-minister-intimate-anti-korean-group-members/

    Abe seems to have found a way to dovetail his ‘womanomics’ sloganeering with his favorite past-time; the extreme right wing!

  • This is an interesting piece*

    “..Japan: A Polite Nation’s Dark Underbelly
    A poor record on human rights hurts democracy in Japan…”

    “..Visiting Japan, one is struck by the civility and moderation of its people — and the sharp contrast in this regard with some of its extreme leaders and minority groups…..The very sharp criticisms of Japan, recently meted out by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC), are a harsh reminder of how shallow democracy is in that country. Extreme politeness, courtesy and kindness are the face of Japan that most visitors see and appreciate so much. But there is another side of Japan which is dark and sinister.”

    “…But Japan’s approach has always seemed more legalistic than heartfelt. This impression of a lack of sincerity is given credence by the occasional unfortunate statements by leading Japanese personalities which seek to deny or minimize the comfort women issue, the rape of Nanking and other issues..”

    “…The pursuit of such soft power would be Japan’s greatest source of strength and security. It cannot go its own way in today’s world. For its own survival, Japan must solidify its fragile place among the world’s mature democracies. But to occupy Asia’s high moral ground, Japan will need to address the many issues raised by the Human Rights Commission.”

    * http://www.theglobalist.com/japan-a-polite-nations-dark-underbelly/

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Meanwhile in Osaka….

    Hashimoto had a meeting with the leader of Zaitokukai, that lasted only 10 mins, and consisted of them shouting insults at each other until they nearly had a scuffle! I wish I’d been there to see that!

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/21/national/social-issues/osaka-mayor-engages-shouting-match-head-anti-korean-group/

    — You can see it on YouTube:

    FULL VERSION
    橋下市長 在特会・桜井誠会長と面談 2014-10-20 フルバージョン
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxL383jN484

    SHORT VERSION
    橋下徹vs在特会・桜井誠 【全】10/20
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACRxHAC-tyg

    SAKURAI’S FOLLOW-UP
    在特会桜井誠 橋下徹市長との対談後の感想
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dMHEpoMruA

  • @ Dr. Debito,

    That was a bizarre spectacle indeed!

    Watching the Zaitokuka leader berating the press before the meeting for not standing up to (as he sees it) the hate speech that he thinks Japan is a victim of (feel sorry for the guy from Asahi just trying to do his job) like a right little Hitler, then tries to be professional when Hashimoto comes in (what a face-off! The war-crimes denier attempting to lecture the racist!), but looses his cool almost immediately, and can’t stop calling everyone ‘Omae’.

    I thought Hashimoto actually played it quite cool, and I hope that this footage gets lots of airplay to show what kind of an idiot the Zaitokukai guy is.

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