Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”


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Hi Blog.  To kick off the new year, here’s a bit of typical “We Japanese are Unique” narrative maintenance — that for once isn’t going unchallenged.  Because this year, there’s an official leg for protests to stand on.  Read on:


Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark misunderstood
Asahi Shimbun, By MASAHIRO KAKIHANA/ Staff Writer
January 14, 2020, Courtesy of lots of people

Finance Minister Taro Aso on Jan. 14 sort of apologized for saying Japan has been a single-race nation for more than two millennia, a remark that ignored the existence of the Ainu people and other ethnic groups.

His remark also conflicted with the government’s policy, approved by the Cabinet in September, to make efforts to support the Ainu people and eradicate discrimination against them.

“If my remarks caused a misunderstanding, I apologize and will correct them” Aso said after a Cabinet meeting in Tokyo. “I have no intention of denying the government’s policy.”

After more than a century of forced assimilation and discrimination, the Ainu people were finally recognized as indigenous under legislation enacted in May 2019.

But Aso apparently forgot about that legislation when he gave a speech at a Jan. 13 meeting with his supporters in his electoral turf of Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture.

“There is no other nation but (Japan) where a single race has spoken a single language at a single location and maintained a single dynasty with a single emperor for over 2,000 years,” said Aso, who is also deputy prime minister. “It is a great nation.”

Aso also brought up the Japanese team’s impressive performance at the Rugby World Cup last year, saying, “As it turned out, Japan became ‘one team’ by mixing various nations.”

He made the same “single-race nation” remarks at another meeting held in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, on the same day.

In 2005, Aso, who was then minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications, made very similar statements, which drew protests from the Hokkaido Utari Association, now the Ainu Association of Hokkaido.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Jan. 14 said of Aso’s latest remarks: “I heard that (he) has no intention of denying the government’s policy concerning the Ainu people.”


COMMENT:  Now, watching an LDP dinosaur making statements like this (who keeps getting re-elected) is frustrating as hell.  However, a) it’s refreshing that he “sort of apologized” (we’ve had plenty of these fossilized statements in the past not even getting that much, or even being doubled-down upon by bonafide bigots who nevertheless get re-elected); and b) we have official policy enacted last year (as noted in my annual JT Top Ten Human Rights List for 2019) that has declared the Ainu an indigenous people, meaning that Japan is now officially a multiethnic country.  Even Asole himself wasn’t going to (officially) contradict that.

Again, it’s a bit too much to expect an electorate like Japan’s (one that generally only backs winners, as can be seen in six decades of rule by the same corrupt and morally-bankrupt political party) to vote out somebody on a controversy that few care about. (After all, sadly, how many in Fukuoka give a toss about long-vanquished aborigines in faraway Hokkaido?  Not enough to reach a critical voting mass in 2005.)

What we can do to “bright-side” this event is to note that the unproblematized “monoethnic-pure-race” narrative was indeed challenged.  In public and in the media.  Successfully enough to get a sort-of public backpedaling.  Which was one of the reasons for establishing that official recognition in the first place.  Good news, sort of.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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12 comments on “Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Ahh, bless his heart! Aso’s dementia is kicking in again! That’s the only excuse, right?
    Because otherwise this self-confessed Hitler admirer hasn’t learned anything from all his previous ‘nazi’ gaffes (admire Hitler’s way of changing the constitution, claiming Hitler was misunderstood, Japan needs ‘rich jews’, etc). And let’s be clear, this is ANOTHER nazi inspired rant on his part; Japan is ‘one people’? I think he means ‘Ein Volk!’

    And of course, it’s always ‘your misunderstanding’ when this old fart makes some blatantly ignorant racist comment…

  • “maintained a single dynasty with a single emperor”

    Hasn’t there been more than one emperor? Does he consider them to be a single entity that passes from one body to another?

  • Akihabara went from cool tourist shopping destination to creepy otaku maid cafes with lousy shopping under his watch. Remember that poster glorifying him there as “Our Taro”?
    All in the name of Soft Power and Cool Japan. I wonder what was meant by soft power….

  • “…a single race…”

    Race is a concept humans made up and does not refer to any biological reality. In practice, it is merely a simple way to describe a person’s phenotype. Beyond that, it has no real meaning or value.

    However, this ignorant, incompetent moron did not use the word race (人種), as most Wajin are reluctant to acknowledge it. He declared that Japan is composed of one ethnicity(民族), an objectively false statement that reveals his complete and total lack of understanding or awareness of the reality of our society.

    The Ainu are always the first to come to mind when right-wing Wajin racists talk about Japan being an “ethnically homogeneous” nation, but the Ryūkyū and Okinawans, the Western islanders (欧米系島民)in the Ogasawara Islands, as well as more recent Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Brazilian, and other immigrants makes for an undeniable ethnic minority population.

    Further, even a cursory study of Japanese history or Japanese mythology reveals that people have been migrating from various areas of the Pacific since thousands of years ago. Suggesting the Japanese population is composed of one single “pure” ethnic group not only a profound, horribly embarrassing ignorance, but also a fundamental disconnect from reality.

    “…has spoken a single language…”

    Obviously, the Ainu language exists, but in addition to this, the “dialects” of the Ogasawara Islands, Okinawa, and the remote islands southwest of Kyūshū are only technically regarded as “Japanese.” A quick YouTube search reveals that people who are not native to these islands are completely unable to understand the local dialect.

    “…at a single location…”

    This is a complete detachment from reality. The territory that constitutes “Japan” now contains areas that were in the past, for long periods of time, not part of Japan, and vice versa, areas that were once, through brutal war, made part of Japan are no longer part of the country. What is the “single location” to which this buffoon is referring?

    “There is no other nation but (Japan which has)…maintained a single dynasty with a single emperor for over 2,000 years”

    Again, blatant ignorance touted shamelessly by a clueless self-important piece of shit old man.

    According to my research, there is no firmly established date, but the nation known as “Japan” (日本)didn’t come into existence until the late 7th or early 8th century, around the end of the Asuka Period.

    Before that, what is known as the Japanese archipelago was known as “Wa,” (hence “Wajin”) and the government which ruled it was the Yamato Court (大和朝廷), or the Yamato Administration(大和政権).

    It’s not clear exactly when the Yamato Court came to unify and rule the land of Wa, but Chinese records indicate that in the early 3rd century, a queen named Himiko had compiled the previously document 100+ “countries” in Wa into about 30, and ruled them from the Nation of Yamatai (邪馬台国). The name is similar, but this was a distinctly different ruling power from the Yamato Court.

    Even if we choose to arbitrarily treat Yamato and Japan as the same country in spite of the fact that we do not treat other countries in this fashion, “Japan” is at best about 1600~1700 years old.

    The claim about a single dynasty of emperors also completely denies blatantly obvious objective facts. The imperial court of Japan went through a period of civil war where a northern capital and southern capital were established, each with its own emperor and calendar. During the Meiji revolution, in order to justify his own absolute monarchy, the emperor and his goons rewrote history textbooks, retroactively recognizing previously disavowed emperors as legitimate, in addition to proclaiming that the emperors of both the northern and southern courts were equally legitimate emperors of Japan.

    This is much in the same way that the Kojiki edited and changed the details of folkore traditions handed down among the various regional tribes in order to justify not only the current administration’s absolute rule, but also add legitimacy to the currently influential aristocrats.

    Sorry, folks, you can’t change history. We’re a nation made of immigrants who have been ruled by self-serving and usually incompetent self-appointed monarchs that were frequently overpowered by overzealous warlords, sometimes for hundreds of years at a time.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      You make valid points, with which I agree, but fail to notice that Aso cannot read kanji and is functionally illiterate having misread even his own speeches whilst he was PM. Alas, he simple is unable to read for himself such information as you have learned and is limited to picture books, cartoons, or the 5000¥-a-beer hotel’s bars (‘that ordinary people don’t go to’) resident looney’s drunken ravings.
      If his family business hadn’t left him its ill (POW labor) gotten-gains, he’d be sleeping rough under a bridge.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Oh, you forgot the Soga no ran, when the emperor was allegedly butchered in the court and his whole family was wiped out by the Soga family who are claimed as the ancestors of the imperial family. That’s been edited out of the official history too.

  • Also, technically, Japan lost its statehood between 1945-1952 when US occupation forces had control. Ouch.

    True, Douglas was the de facto emperor during those years. japan is also the only nation to suffer an atomic response due to war time aggression
    Not trying to change Japan, if he likes it his way, but seems he left out some facts.

  • Tangentially, this is a masterpiece of succinctness.
    ‘What really got me goggle-eyed was the format. The WHOLE AD–I am not making this up–was done to a Japanese RAP BEAT! Had this bleach-browned-hair DJ spinning the yellow symbol (which you see on all Hashimoto’s posters saying “OPEN”–meaning an “open” government) on a turntable, and then three rappers, two guys and one girl (like EAST END X YURI) chanting the ills that today’s youth face.’

    Erai Ojichan trying to be cool again…

  • You can’t apologize for other people misunderstanding what you said.

    If they misunderstood then its their fault. So no apology necessary.

    If you have any credibility, you explain what you meant in a bit more detail, or retract it.

    If you do neither of those things then you aren’t really sorry, so your apology is clearly baseless.


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