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Hi Blog. Making the news recently is this very unusual public smackdown in the halls of the Osaka government:
Osaka mayor gets into shouting match with head of anti-Korean group
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES, OCT 21, 2014
OSAKA – Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto met with the head of an anti-Korean group Monday as he considers cracking down on hate speech rallies in the city, but they ended up having a shouting match in which they more or less just insulted each other.
The meeting with Makoto Sakurai, who heads the group commonly known as Zaitokukai, at City Hall was tense from the beginning, with both men calling each other names.
Sitting 3 meters apart, the two came close to a scuffle at one point before people around them intervened. The meeting, which was open to the media, last just 10 minutes, far shorter than originally planned.
During the meeting, Hashimoto said: “Don’t make statements looking at ethnic groups and nationalities as if they are all the same. In Osaka, we don’t need guys like you who are racists.”
The meeting took place at the request of Zaitokukai, which describes itself as a group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for Korean residents of Japan.
In a ruling in July, the Osaka High Court determined that rallies staged by the group near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school amounted to racial discrimination.
Lee Sin Hae, a journalist and Korean resident of Japan, said after watching the face-off between Hashimoto and Sakurai that she didn’t want people to get the impression that there is no difference between the two just because they both resorted to using abusive language.
“Zaitokukai is still campaigning in the streets. I want the mayor to actually go to places to see that terrible things are happening,” said Lee, who is suing Zaitokukai over online abuse.
I don’t think this article really captures the event well. See it for yourself on YouTube (courtesy MS):
FULL VERSION (which captures the flavor of Sakurai bullying and berating the press at the very beginning):
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
SHORT VERSION (excellent for capturing the register of the language: bully vs. bully):
SAKURAI’S FOLLOW-UP (also instructive for showing just how little substance he actually has behind his argumentation):
COMMENT: A journalist friend whom I highly respect had this to say about the event:
I’m sure some people will view this showdown between Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto and Makoto Sakurai, leader of Japan’s hate speech movement, as high drama, but it struck me as pathetic. Sakurai struts in front of the media, telling NHK and the Mainichi that they “hate Japan”, then sits fanning himself waiting at what looks like a school desk for Hashimoto. They get into a shouting match at roughly the same level as my three-year-old. Hashimoto has been praised for facing down Sakurai but he made a mistake: he should never have sat in the same room as this pathetic schoolyard bully.
I think it’s more significant than mere high drama. I think it is a very necessary smackdown of a person who has spent his whole life taking advantage of Japan’s weakness towards bullies, cringing before loud voices and verbal abuse. A person like Sakurai should have been socked a few times in the schoolyard for this behavior long before he ever reached adulthood (looking at him, I doubt he’s ever really taken a punch, despite all his protestations about the lack of “manliness” in the Hashimoto exchange). A dork like this, full of sociopathic hangups who goes through life this perpetually unchallenged, can grow this big.
Sakurai is a bully. I was raised by a bully for a stepfather, and I personally have learned that you never show a bully any weakness during confrontation. And you inevitably must stand up to them as I believe Hashimoto did. People will be confused about what it all means (as the Kyodo article above certainly was), but I have to admit this is the second time (here is the first) that I have respected one of Hashimoto’s actions. He was clearly telling this oaf that he should not generalize about a whole minority, and that his discriminatory actions are not welcome in his city. And he did it in the same register as he was being addressed. Good. Fire with fire.
Bureaucrats who have spent their lives behind desks and never entered a fray like this have glass jaws in a verbal debate arena. My experience watching the Foreign Ministry in 2007 unable to handle Right-Wing bullyboys during a human-rights hearing is a prime example. It is time even public officials learned to use the register of fighting words, as Hashimoto did. Otherwise the fighters will dominate the dialog by drowning everyone else out. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
UPDATE OCTOBER 23, 2014:
Oh oh. Osaka Mayor Hashimoto has just come out, according to J-Cast.com, in favor of making the Regular and Special Permanent Residents into one unified category. Meaning he buys into the Zaitokukai’s core (surface) argument that the Zainichis should not have “special privileges” (as opposed to earned rights, thanks to their historical contributions to the Japanese Empire and their aberrational status as generational foreigners). Courtesy of MS.
Now it’s time for me to make some qualifications. As others have said, I now agree that what Hashimoto did was a publicity stunt, to make himself look like the “softer side” of Japan’s exclusionary nationalism. I will stand by my statement that his proclaiming that hate speech of the Zaitokukai ilk as wrong and unwelcome, and his demonstrating how and why hate speech should be fought against, are positive steps. But this statement that the Zainichi should simply be made invisible, after all that has happened between Japan and Korea historically, is not positive. As the headline below questions, would this make the hate speech disappear? I say no. People don’t hate certain foreigners because they have special privileges. That’s just a ruse. They hate foreigners because they are racist xenophobes.
2014/10/22 19:48 J-Cast News
Rest of the article below in the Comments Section.