Counterdemos against racist rally by Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba May 11, 2014: Brief on emerging narratives fighting fire with fire


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Hi Blog. For a change (compared to these videos for example here, here, and here), have a look at Japan’s xenophobic public rallies from the perspective of anti-racism protesters. This is from May 11, 2014, a counter-rally against Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba, drowning out Zaitokukai spokesman Sakurai Makoto. Good stuff.

A couple of things I’ve noticed within the emerging narratives of Japan’s xenophobic demos:

  1. The use of the word “reishisuto” (racist) both in Japanese and English, and the pat use of “sabetsu“, to get their point across. This way the narrative doesn’t split between the Newcomers and the Oldcomers, as discrimination towards these two groups is very different. But counter-demonstrator DO bear signs that say “jinshu sabetsu“, or racial discrimination. Good. Looks like the Urawa Reds fans’  “Japanese Only” banner last March finally cracked that rhetorical nut.
  2. The use of the word “shame” (haji) once again to express displeasure, but no signs saying how NJ are residents too and such deserve rights.  As I’ve argued before, until we make that connection, there’s still a layer of “othering” going on here.
  3. The use of the same rough language and simple drowning out of xenophobic messages through noise and chant. Fighting fire with fire.
  4. The popularization of the “f*ck you finger” (aka “The Bird”, not in common use in Japan in my experience until now).

Other videos of demos and counter demos are welcome in the Comments Section. No doubt there will be more. I’m just glad that people are finally and firmly speaking out against these issues. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

14 comments on “Counterdemos against racist rally by Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba May 11, 2014: Brief on emerging narratives fighting fire with fire

  • I’m glad that you’re spending a bit of time on the “ネトウヨ” and counter-groups. The zaitakukai have (according to their website) 14,416 members. There are numerous other groups that exist as well. These sorts of groups tend to appeal to the disenfranchised members of society, and are although mostly non-violent at the moment could become violent in the future. Furthermore, if not stopped – they will grow and eventually cause a whole manner of problems.

    The funny thing is that although they claim that they are against “the special treatment of Koreans” – there is no proof whatsoever on their website that such “special treatment” exists. Surely, if that were the issue they would at least bother to post some sort of tangible proof, or show some of this proof at some of their “demonstrations”?

    These people need to be mercilessly mocked, opposed and stood up to at every possible chance.

    I am not Korean (I’m of Northern European origin), but I would gladly join in one of these counter demonstrations and fight the bastards back.

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    Ah, the finger… or as some Canadians might recall, the Trudeau salute.

    The right-wing noise pollutes my neighbourhood on a weekly basis. The number of police that are used to keep these nuts away from the embassies and such is such a waste of resources that could have been spent on good things if these nuts didn’t exist.

  • FaithnoMore says:

    The use of the word “shame” (haji) once again to express displeasure, but no signs saying how NJ are residents too and such deserve rights. As I’ve argued before, until we make that connection, there’s still a layer of “othering” going on here.

    Thank you for that. This is such a fundamental point. While we are objects of discussion, and not participants, then the conversation’s default mode is still exclusionary and discriminatory.

  • I live close to a Chinese AND a Korean consulate, so I get to hear the Uyoku’s rantings nearly weekly (especially bad on those occasions when I had a nomikai the previous night). If there was a counter protest here, I’d be happy to support. Might wear my Captain America hoodie too, except I’m worried about trolling the Uyoku TOO much. Well, that and it’s about to get too humid for hoodies. Debito, any idea of when and where counter protests are happening?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Ok, just my uninformed 2 cents worth, so please don’t get angry, but by all means point out any faults with my thinking.

    Having read the above, I can’t help but think that NJ living in Japan, and the Zainichi Korean community are not similar cases.

    This is because the Zainichi Koreans were born here (3rd/4th generation). I agree with, and support, their struggle against discrimination (a struggle shared by NJ), but I feel that we must take care not to undermine their position. They are (or at least should be) fighting for their right to be recognized as legitimate citizens of the Japanese state, with all the associated rights and freedoms, to exactly the same degree as any other Japanese born in Japan. In other other G20 country, they wouldn’t even be labelled as ‘Zainichi *insert ethnic group here*’, they would simply be citizens.

    To this end, the best that they and the NJ community could do, IMHO, would be to raise international awareness and associated international pressure on the J-Gov re their plight. Shame Japan into being modern on this issue.

    My fear is that should we NJ (who are also discriminated against, albeit in some similar, but many dissimilar ways) join their protests, it will fuel the racists argument that the Zainichi Koreans are ‘foreigners’ (just like all those ‘white/black gaijin’), and confuse the issue, making it harder for the Zainichi Koreans to get their message across, and easier for the racists to lump them in with all ‘bad gaijin’.

    I don’t know if this logic is correct. What do readers think?

  • It seems so many of you are framing this issue through your own (open-minded, college-educated, western) eyes. This demonstration, and the tactics employed (or not employed), (IMHO) fit Japanese culture to a “T”. The indirectness (in one sense), the lack of overt “Koreans are residents, and we have rights too” signs makes perfect sense, in a Japanese context. That they showed up, and stood their ground IS the message.

    1 – James – Japanese arguments don’t require facts. Likewise, the claim of “special treatment of Koreans” requires no proof or examples (to a Japanese audience).

    (depending on your visa status) – participation in demonstrations of any kind may be forbidden. Do research this, as my info may be outdated.

    3 & 4 – FaithnoMore – Again, to the Japanese population, these people do not deserve rights. They are not citizens. It is very black & white (to Japanese people) . BTW, what does a foreigner look like? The majority of NJ in Japan are ethnic Koreans, who were born in Japan. In a more open-minded country, they would be granted citizenship at birth. That Japan does not

    If you want to understand the indigenous population, watch how they argue. If you can watch Japanese men or women, and note how they verbalize their displeasure, you should see:
    -lack of facts to support argument.
    -abundance of seemingly unrelated claims.
    -wild over-statements.
    -borderline “irrational” behavior.

    And yes, many cultures do this, more or less. I could site examples (related to Japan), but it is better if you do the work yourselves.

    — For the record, the majority of NJ in Japan are not ethnic Koreans. Haven’t been for a while. And the largest group of NJ is Chinese.

  • I really like this development. It seems that a counter movement is picking up steam recently. It’s all good news, and reminds me of Europe where any right-wing rallies will be met with a counter crowd that’s twice as big.
    In a country like Japan, I think it is very brave to speak up against the right-wing as it’s the mainstream and the Uyoku groups are connected to the Yakuza.

    “Left-wing” demonstrators (I guess they’d be simply called “democrats” in any other country) in Japan are really putting their health on the line. They cannot count on support from the so-called police and have to fear being stalked or even lit on fire and killed.

    The best thing about this is that finally there is proof that the “Borg mentality” can be broken up and people start to realise that ignoring evil things doesn’t make them go away.

  • Out of curiosity, what would be the response or impact if a group of us in the US were to be at the international arrivals section of the airport and were to point and shout “Gaijin” at arriving Japanese?

    — One of bemusement, mostly. “Gaijin” is a racialized construct that by definition doesn’t apply to Japanese. I doubt it would cause much introspection, unless perhaps it hit the J-media on the same scale as the Urawa Reds fans’ “JAPANESE ONLY” banner, accompanied with by some fluke the voice of the regularly-gaijinized explaining well why they’re doing it…

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Garrett #10

    If you did that, you’d be slammed by the Japanese as a racist, and held up as an example of how racist America is, compared to Japan where ‘there is no racism because all Japanese people are ethnically the same (or some such mid-informed belief)’.

    All of which is assuming that you can overcome the Japanese idea that wherever a Japanese person goes in the world, it is never them who are the ‘gaijin’, but the locals! They would just laugh at your poor Japanese language ability (look! He wrote ‘Gaijin go home!’, but he means ‘Japanese go home!’. Ahh, the Japanese language is too difficult for gaijin to really understand in their heart, the way we Japanese do! Ah, we Japanese are so unique and special in the world, not like all these gaijin).

  • @Jim I can confirm that the need for Nihonjin / Gaijin categorisation remains stable for most Japanese even when abroad. I’ve often had to correct Japanese people living in Germany referring to Germans as “Gaijin”. When I told them something along the lines of “You’re the Gaijin here, buddy”, the reactions ranged from puzzled looks to frowns, but I never had the feeling that the penny had dropped.
    Which leads me to believe that “Gaijin” has very little to do with location. Liek Debito wrote, it is definitely a racialized thing – the “special”, “unique”, or even “superior” race of Nihonjin.
    On a side note, I have often snide or negative remarks by Japanese living in Germany about other ethnic groups (such as Germans with Turkish roots) as being “dangerous” and “chaotic”, in contrast to the “quiet” and “hard-working” Japanese. This unfortunately is often encouraged by clueless Germans who know nothing but the usual myths about the Japanese and treat them as some sort of VIP foreigners. I’ll do my best to correct this false image.

  • Mr_Alex123455679 says:

    What the Zaitokukai and other Japanese far right have failed to realise was that over a decade ago a Japanese Professor admitted that Chinese people and Japanese people are related in terms of DNA in other words they are hating their own


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