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Hi Blog. The Mainichi gives us an interesting case study of how one Wajin became a participant in hate speech groups, how he felt empowered due to the fact there was (at the time) no enforceable hate speech law in Japan, and how he eventually became disillusioned with the movement. While completely anecdotal and single-case, if we get enough of these, patterns emerge, and aggregated case studies eventually can become meaningful surveys (as the fieldwork resulting from the Otaru Onsens Case demonstrated, as it morphed into the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments and a doctoral dissertation study). Let us begin the first step of understanding how and why people hate, and hopefully more people will realize why societies should make hate speech legally culpable. Dr. Debito Arudou
Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniv. of clampdown law
Mainichi Daily News, June 6, 2017 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
To mark the one year anniversary of the anti-hate speech law coming into effect on June 3, the Mainichi Shimbun interviewed a 38-year-old man who formerly participated actively in anti-Korean and anti-foreigner hate speech demonstrations to the extent of becoming a leading member. He spoke about his experience and the actions that he now deeply regrets.
【Related】2 online hate speech videos removed at request of Osaka city
【Related】Kawasaki looks at guidelines for regulating hate speech campaigns in advance
【Related】After anti-hate speech law adopted, marches down, language softened
The man’s involvement with the hate speech groups began following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. Due to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) rolling blackouts in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster to conserve electricity, the company where the man worked had trouble with its operations, and he was unable to return home for three days. During that time, he happened upon an internet post which claimed that the anti-nuclear power movement was a conspiracy orchestrated by leftist groups and Korean residents in Japan. He believed the claims, and started to doubt the anti-nuclear power movement.
After that, he began participating in demonstrations that called for resuming operations of nuclear power plants halted after the disaster, and learned of the existence of hate speech groups. Researching the claims of the groups, he found there were many points with which he sympathized and began participating in the demonstrations with a new sense of “righteousness.”
In 2012, the location of the demonstrations he joined moved to “Korean town” in the Shin-Okubo district of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. Participating in the anti-Korean demonstrations at least twice a month, the man cultivated friendships with fellow participants and he started to feel like the demonstrations were a place where he really belonged.
While shouting phrases like, “Kick out the criminal foreigners!” at demonstrations, calling Korean residents “cockroaches” and “ticks” became second nature. Gradually, his remarks escalated to “Die!” and “Kill them!”
His sole source of information was the internet. Coming across information not covered in mass media, he felt like only he knew the truth. When news media reported on particularly atrocious crimes, he almost instantly thought that they were committed by foreigners, and firmly believed that news organizations were intentionally hiding the nationality and real names of the perpetrators.
In 2014, he became a central member of a hate speech group, and was dubbed a captain leading the offense of the movement. When asked about what fueled his extreme behavior, he offered the authorization of the use of roads for demonstrations and the many dispatched police officers that surrounded the events.
“Because we had received permission to use the road, I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech,'” he remembered. “Even if opposition groups surrounded our demonstrations, I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”
His extreme behavior culminated in August 2014. At a gathering of over 100 members of the hate speech group at an “izakaya” bar, seven men belonging to an anti-hate speech group coincidentally entered the same establishment. Believing them to be Korean, the group attacked and injured them. In October of the same year, the man was arrested on charges of assault in connection to the incident. As penitence, he vowed to no longer get involved with the demonstrations, but once he distanced himself from the hate speech group, they began suspecting him of joining an opposition group. He was verbally abused by members screaming, “Kick out the traitor!” and his ties to the group were severed.
What ultimately saved him was an email from a 52-year-old, second-generation Korean resident who was a member of an anti-hate speech group. It read, “If you receive any threats or harassment (from the hate speech group he belonged to), just tell me.” At first he thought, “Why is he saying this to me when I’m the one who has attacked him?” However, the message became an impetus for self-reflection. He asked the man what he could do to be forgiven for his own aggressive actions. “I want you to promise me that you will never do it again even if you’re not forgiven,” was his answer.
Even now, video of him participating in hate speech demonstrations remains on the internet. Each time he meets new people, he is always afraid they will discover his past. “There is nothing to gain from joining hate speech demonstrations, but there is a lot to lose,” he said. To those who still participate in the demonstrations, the man has this message:
“I want you to quit as soon as you can. I don’t want the number of people who have been hurt to grow any further. Don’t throw away your precious time and relationships for hate.”
デモが居場所、暴言エスカレート 元「突撃隊長」後悔 ネットうのみ「間違っていた」
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13 comments on “Mainichi: Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniversary of clampdown law. SITYS. Hate speech laws matter.”
Just my 2 cents, but this story.boils down to;
Member of the majority felt his sense of entitlement wasn’t being met.
Of course, when he looks on the internet he discovers that it isn’t because he didn’t study hard enough at school and has poor social skills, oh no, it’s all a big conspiracy aimed at keeping him down! Seems ‘rational’…
So he finds a group of similar people and holds demos! Feels important in a group (because, there’s safety in numbers) and so shouts more extreme ideas to get even more ‘positive’ affirmation from the group.
Takes it to the extreme of physical violence. The law steps in and bursts his bubble. Now he’s scared and back in touch with reality.
CUE JAPANESE AS VICTIM MODE.
Reeling from his brush with the law, he takes a step back from the hate-speech scene. His former associates ‘naturally’ rationalize this as him being one of the enemy since their world view permits no other explanation.
Instead of ‘he who lives by the sword’ justice bringing a morally appropriate end to the subject in question, he is saved by his former victims (are they lacking in self-preservation skills?).
Subject now gets to whine about how he ‘can’t escape his past’ (well done, genius), instead of standing tall, taking the risks, and naming and shaming the whole movement and it’s members.
Selfish and self serving.
The hate speech laws are important,as the article demonstrates, because they prevent the local governments and police from what is essentially aiding and abetting hate speech demonstrations.
“Because we had received permission to use the road, I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech,’” he remembered. “Even if opposition groups surrounded our demonstrations, I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”
Now, if only the local media would join the dots and realise that the patterns correlate with the anti-immigration groups they like to call out for racism.
1) Sense of entitlement
2) When expectations not met, it must be someone else’s fault
3) Internet as source of information
4) Claiming that mainstream media is owned by ethnic groups
5) Attacking minorities in large numbers while maintaining annonymity
I never understood the “we are victims, the gaijin are taking over, the gaijin are taking our jobs!” gig. Most of the jobs Ive seen gaijin doing are horrible crap jobs that Japanese dont want to do. House demolition, trash separation, bento making, etc. Its not like some US company has taken over a whole town in Japan and everybody in that town is employed by that company, as you can see Japanese doing in other countries.
Whoops! I left out the qualifying point in my statement that the Japanese media love to analyze anti-immigration groups IN OTHER COUNTRIES and call out their racism while conveniently ignoring the racists in their own country.
B, b, but there is no racism in Japan! Japan is for Japanese people! Don’t like it? Go home!
Hence, no discussion. After all, it’s ‘not racism’ when the wajin do it.
I also suspect that some Japanese person has read about “white privilege” somewhere and has decided to take it at face value – that the white races automatically have some kind of privilege and power, no matter where they are. No analysis to maybe equate it with “Yamato privilege” in Japan. I suspect that part of the problem is what you describe, Jim – the flawed thinking that Japanese are somehow immune to racism.
Yeah, absolutely that. I think that the commonly ‘misunderstood’ definition of racism held by Japanese is that ‘racism is a type of discrimination white people do to black people’, (and note that therefore the Japanese are shocked to perceive racist against themselves since they aren’t black!).
This (incorrect, limited) understanding of racism sees racism (as you say) as merely a function of White Privilege, hence by Japanese mis-definition, Japanese are literally unable to do this to white people or other asians; then it’s not ‘racism’ (sabetsu) but merely differentiation (kubetsu).
But can we really blame the Japanese for this misunderstanding? Yes! This is not an accidental misunderstanding caused by culture and language, but rather an INTENTIONAL misdefinition CAUSED by culture, specifically Imperial Era Ideology. The postwar Ministry of Education was intentionally staffed with former Kempeitai army secret police specifically to ensure that Japan’s racist fascist worldview survived the surrender. It’s no accident that Japanese elementary school textbooks introduce children to WWII with ‘It was a peaceful summer day in Hiroshima when America dropped the world’s first atom-bomb without warning’ in the same way that Japanese children’s first encounter with the concept of racism is textbooks explaining ‘Martin Luther King believed that all people are equal and was shot by a white American man’.
its just an inferiority complex. There is rarely anything really “deep” or “new” about Japanese perceptions on cultural differences; just a bunch of glaringly obvious observations based on what their eyes can see only, like “the daughter that looks Japanese can come in the onsen and the one who doesn’t, can’t”.
Thus, “Japan lost the war because Americans are big”. (Tell it to Tom Cruise and Al Pachino!) This is the beginning of the post war narrative of Japan as victim, dovetailing with “white privilege”, but sickeningly Japanese e.g. visiting South Africa took advantage of their “honorary white” status, same as in WW2 when they were allied with HItler, but I digress.
If they benefit from it, they don’t call it out for being morally reprehensible, ditto backing the junta in Mayanmar, Uso Mo Houben etc I suppose.
And the irony is that such lame argument is echoed by some NJ. That’s quite mind-boggling.
Yeah, but a Japanese store can still ban Chinese customers until it generates bad PR.
No arrests, no fines, no laws.
But hey, why would lawmakers make a law to criminalize what they themselves do?
We are truly sorry.
… sorry that we got caught.
Allegedly qualified ‘psychologist’ uses dubious ‘non-science’ of Nihonjinron Giron to guess that whilst 4% of Americans are clinically psychopaths, only 1% of Japanese are, because, y’know, racial homogeneity, rice culture, island nation, blah, blah, blah (you get the picture). But in the same breath admits this is what led Japanese to massacre thousands of Koreans after the Great Kanto Earthquake (well, it wasn’t an act of psychopathy, but a premeditated mass murder carried out by people who were not suffering from temporary insanity? Gee, that’s a stunning non-endorsement of Japanese culture right there!).