Neo-Nazis march in Tokyo Edogawa-ku March 23, 2014, bearing swastika flags! Here’s how counter-demos could sharpen their anti-racism message


eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at
If you like what you read and discuss on, please consider helping us defray maintenance costs and anti-hacking measures with a little Paypal donation:

Thanks for your support!

Hello Blog. I put this up as a matter of record of how Japan’s overt xenophobia has mutated from the hatred of a specific people (the Chinese and/or Koreans); now it’s piggybacking upon a historical campaign that ultimately led to genocide.

Witness this video taken of xenophobic demonstrators doing one of their demonstrations (note that this ilk last year also advocated genocide with a sign saying “good or bad, kill all Koreans“). The video below is subtitled as filmed in Tokyo Edogawa-ku, Kodomo no Hiroba (a children’s park), on Sunday, March 23, 2014:
(Courtesy of noxxx710, still photographs and commentary in Japanese at Hat tip to Twitter’s Tokyo Desu and RIO_AKIYAMA)
Here’s one of the stills:

COMMENT:  This is one of the outcomes of an education system that still hasn’t come to grips with its fascist past, and thus has literate people appropriating symbols for shock value without historical awareness of what they’re advocating (or worse, they ARE aware, and actually support genocidal fanaticism!).  For once I’m willing to give these demonstrators the benefit of the doubt (as we see plenty of swastikas around Asia more as ideological fashion statements; moreover, we still haven’t seen a group manifesto specifically advocating murder).  But not if Nazi Swastikas appear again.  And I bet they will.

The only good news one could point out in this Edogawa-ku video to is the presence of counter-demonstrators.  Not so long ago, protests like these were just seen as venting, confined to rightist wingnuts without much political traction, so they were ignored by the public in general who just walked by tacitly.  Now with Japan’s sharp and overt right-wing swing, people ARE seeing the danger (as it increasingly gets noticed overseas) that these people represent to Japan’s image, and coming out to show that racists do not represent all Japanese (their banners are, after all, also in English for foreign consumption).  Good.  Please continue.

But the counter-demonstrators could do better with their message.  One thing that keeps getting missed out in these racist vs. counter-racist demos is the notion that the foreign element being decried is not really foreign.  They (particularly the Zainichi being targeted) are residents of Japan who have been contributing to Japanese society for decades and generations.  Nobody is really pointing this out — that NJ BELONG IN JAPAN and are INVESTED IN JAPAN just the same as citizens.  Instead, it’s more along the lines of “racism is embarrassing to Japan, so knock it off”.  It’s a shame issue, not a moral issue of equality and equal treatment of other peoples.  We saw that in the recent “Japanese Only” sign issue with the Urawa Reds soccer team earlier this month:  Despite some really good condemnations of racism in Japanese soccer, nobody really had the balls to say explicitly that the problem with this exclusionary sign is that NJ are Urawa Reds fans too.  So this foreigner-verboten “sacred ground” within Saitama Station is a stupid concept, because fandom in sport should (and does) transcend nationality and race.

So if any counter-demonstrators are reading this blog (thanks if you are), may I suggest that you counter the evils of the “bad things foreigners in Japan do” propaganda with some “good things foreigners in Japan do” placards too?  A simple, “外国人も日本人と同じ、住民だ!” would work magic in awareness raising and debate-agenda setting.  Thanks.  ARUDOU, Debito

19 comments on “Neo-Nazis march in Tokyo Edogawa-ku March 23, 2014, bearing swastika flags! Here’s how counter-demos could sharpen their anti-racism message

  • I was watching the video and noticed a blue-red-black-yellow flag. Does anyone know why someone in that crowd was carrying it? I checked on the internet and it’s the international code flag for the letter ‘Z’. Am I missing something?

  • This is absolutely awful and swastika flags not being banned in a country with a fascist past is not excusable even by the most relaxed interpretation of meta-ethical relativism. I will do my best to forward these photos to German newspapers.

  • @ Markus #2:

    apropos banning symbols like in Germany, that reminds me, does anyone of you know how the “contentious” symbols of Imperial Japan past are handled in Japan, in a legal sense for example ? Or what symbols are actually identified as such ?

    I know that the Rising Sun flag is obviously a controversial symbol, mostly of course to the victims of japanese wartime aggression, but I don’t know how positive/negative the association is with japanese people. Of course hawks and revisionists approve, since they see nothing done wrong, but how do the rest of the “normal” people feel ? Do they not care, are they mildly embarrassed (at least in a “you’re making us look bad”-way), or are they actively against it that they’d want to ban it ?

    I think part of the problem is that in Germany the Nazis had actually made completely new symbols after their takeover, so when it came to reset it was easy to identify and undo their stuff. If the japanese stuff was just a continuation of signage already in use before, it’s hard to extricate it afterwards due to a single point in time. Similarly, Neo-Nazis in Germany do try to circumvent the banned Nazi-imagery by flying the (not-banned, but still associatedly nationalist) symbols of the Imperial Reich (1871-1918) so when confronted they can cop out like “Führer? No, we mean the Kaiser..”

    Anything else ? I’m not to knowledgeable about the state and imagery of the japanese ultranationalists and its legality, beyond having encountered a few unimpressively nondescript black soundtrucks when I was in the country years ago (which were sporting the chrysanthemum crest also, iirc. Go figure, I wonder what the emperor’s trademark office thinks about that). Also blaring the tinny prussian march music, what’s the deal with that? You’d think someone conservative would go with actual old traditional japanese music instead of this western style, but it’s quite telling of their worldwiev that they’d rather choose the soundtrack of glorious imperial colonialist expansion mindset.

  • I checked on the internet and it’s the international code flag for the letter ‘Z’. Am I missing something?

    Bill, at the climax of the Russo-Japanese War, the Z flag was hoisted on Admiral Togo’s flagship the Mikasa before the victorious Battle of Tsushima in May 1905. Its message was 「皇国ノ興廃、コノ一戦ニ在リ。各員一層奮励努力セヨ」 translated as “The Empire’s fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man do his utmost duty.”

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Enginerd, #3

    I personally don’t have a problem with imagine of 12-ray flag (a.k.a. An old Rising Sun flag) itself. It was made in 1872 to commemorate the transformation of nation state from feudal system to monarchic-democratic state. I know some people in Asia(especially China and South Korea) have an issue over the flag due to historical past. But argument attributing wartime imperialism to that flag (therefore, anyone having that flag is all right-wing nationalist) is no less convincing than arguing that flag was made to promote national war (it’s not because the 12-ray sun flag was adopted more than 30 years ago before Japan waged war against her neighbors.)

    On the other hand, I do have an issue with a bunch of right-wingers using that flag for xenophobism, racism, or anything related to fascism or habitual denial of history for many years. If there’s a problem with use of flag, I would directly point my finger at these folks for sending a distorted message through the iconic image of flag.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    “The Empire’s fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man do his utmost duty.”

    Which is, in itself, a pretty poor paraphrasing of Nelson’s speech prior the Battle of Trafalger.
    Ships built in Britain, a national anthem penned by a Scot, my, these Japanese nationalists are so confused.

  • @ MWW and Bystander

    Thanks for the information. I had no idea. I wonder whether many Japanese people know about this.

  • @ Jim Di Griz “A national anthem written by a Scot,”

    In fact, the Japanese national anthem was composed by an Irish band leader, William Fenton in 1870. The lyrics were written nearly a thousand years earlier during the Heian Period; a poem in praise of the Emperor. A piece of music barely a minute and a half long that has managed to stir up such controversies in its time.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Oh, I forgot. The ‘Z flag’ that the nationalists use was the flag Togo used to signal the attack of the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Tsushima in 1905 against the Russian fleet. Togo copied this also from Nelson who used the Z flag signal to start the attack at Trafalger.

    To be honest, every time I see a Japanese nationalist, be it anti-korean or anti-whaling, I can’t help but think ‘go home, put on a kimono and geta, give up your suits and blue jeans, and electricity, and all those other western affectations’.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Blackrat,
    My apologies, an Irishman.

    My comment above meant to read ‘anti-Korean or pro-whaling’.

    I’m all fingers and thumbs today.

  • In Warsaw years ago I was walking in the main train station and saw a group of men walking with a swastika flag. According to Polish law, police have to arrest people like that automatically.
    I guess in Japan it is just about free speech.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Nazis marching in the street, with no anti-hate speech legislation. Meanwhile, the NPA reports an 8% increase in the number of NJ arrested.


    How about the stats for NJ charged?
    Or better yet, the stats for NJ convicted!
    And while we are at it, what’s the increase in J-cops arrested for taking up-skirt photos and such?

    — Source for the 8% stat?


    No. of foreigners arrested for crimes in Japan up by 8% in 2013
    CRIME MAR. 27, 2014 – 05:00PM JST ( 65 )TOKYO —

    The National Police Agency said Thursday that the number of foreigners arrested on suspicion of committing crimes totaled 9,884 in 2013, an increase of 8% over 2012, and the first increase in nine years.

    According to NPA figures, criminal charges were filed against foreigners in 15,419 cases, NTV reported. Of the 9,884 arrests, Chinese accounted for the most with 4,047, followed by Vietnamese (1,118) and South Koreans (936).

    The NPA also noted that in the case of Vietnamese offenders, shoplifting was the main offense, with charges being filed in 549 cases last year, NTV reported.

    The figures do not include arrests of foreigners with permanent residency status and members of the U.S. military stationed in Japan.

  • On Sunday there was a march in Ikebukuro to celebrate the birth of Hitler.

    There is also a video from Youtube

    Marchers in Ikebukuro fete Hitler’s 125th birthday anniversary
    JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI APR. 25, 2014 – 06:19AM JST ( 58 )TOKYO —

    A group of demonstrators paraded through Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district last Sunday, criticizing China and South Korea while advocating the restoration of the “Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” proposed by Japan in the 1940s. The procession this time was different from those organized by other groups seen marching on Tokyo’s streets, as, in addition to the 16-ray rising sun flag of Japan, the participants spearheading the march openly waved the Nazi flag—an act that’s illegal in Germany.

    The demonstration, including the flags, can be viewed in the YouTube video below.

    According to J-Cast News (April 23), Sunday’s demonstration was organized by an organization that calls itself the “Gokoku Shishi no Kai” (Group of Warriors Protecting the Nation). They assembled in a small park in East Ikebukuro, the location of the gallows in the former Sugamo Prison, where former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and six other Class A war criminals were executed by hanging in December 1948.

    “To keep the achievements of our illustrious predecessors from going to waste, we advocate the restoration of the Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, minus participation by China and the two Koreas,” one of the organizers told the assembled demonstrators. Referring to the date as coinciding with the 125th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday, he also noted that “The empire of Japan and Nazi Germany have been portrayed as villains, and in Germany glorifying the Nazis will get a person jailed. We would like to re-investigate the 1993 Kono Statement and Nazi Germany as well, to rehabilitate their good acts and restore their honor.”

    When asked to name the Nazis’ good acts, the speaker was able to come up with the autobahn, but not much else.

    Approximately 40 marchers, who also carried the flags of Tibet and the Taiwan Independence Party, chanted slogans such as “Let’s tie up with Asia, excepting ‘Shina’ (China) and ‘Chosen’ (Koreans),” “Japan should learn from the Nazis’ good points” and “Long live the Chancellor (Hitler)!”

    A smaller group of counter-demonstrators also showed up and the two sides exchanged taunts, but did not exchange blows.

    As the demonstration broke up, the organizer was quoted as saying that the police had requested they delay the march due to President Obama’s impending visit to Tokyo.

    “But I told them, “It can only be this day (Hitler’s birthday), and kept pushing for a permit. We should all tell the police how much we appreciate their consideration.”

  • Could somebody tell me if this demonstration/protest in Asakusa, Tokyo on 30th March 2014 is likely to have been one of these xenophobic demonstrations?
    Or does anybody know where I would find out retrospectively what demonstrations or protests took place in this area on that date?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>