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Hi Blog. Once again we have the Zaitokukai demonstrating in Shibuya last Saturday, once again blurring the line between freedom of speech and the expression of racist hate speech. As hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity (and a debate with our Resident Gaijin Handler last April had him making contrary yet ultimately unsubstantiated claims; let me head him off at the pass here), this will continue, and quite possibly continue to legitimize and foment, public expressions of xenophobia in Japan, and the perpetual unappreciation of NJ as residents, taxpayers, and mere human beings.
Here’s the video:
Comment with the video: “Go home now! ” “You are cockroaches. ” Stupid Racist “Zairtokukai” shout to the Koreans living in Japan.
Zaitokukai – They’re The group of Neo Nazi in Japan. They hate Chinese, Koreans and so foreigners. They always shout racist slogans. They are a group of ethnocentrism, and a group of the worst racial discrimination. Conscientious people in Japan fear that they injure foreigners. We hope many people of the world to know about the hidden crisis in Japan.
Here’s another video with them getting violent towards somebody, date and more details unclear:
Very ugly stuff. And it will continue, if not get worse, until hate speech and the concomitant violence is made illegal. Arudou Debito
29 comments on “Zaitokukai Neo Nazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective and the threat of violence”
Whenever I see a demonstration like this, I just join in the parade! They look pretty stupid with white boy Drew joining in the festivities.
My white buddy and I were up in Utsunomiya on our motorbikes and happened across a “foreigners go home” parade with the black vans. We flipped our face masks up and spent a good 15 minutes driving around in the middle of the parade, smiling and waving at the crowd. I’m pretty sure that nothing makes those idiots look stupider than two super-friendly foreigners following them around.
The government could easily crack down on these scum if they wanted to. Yet clearly they have chosen not to do so.
The irony is that Japanese embassies abroad are the first to complain if the boot is on the other foot.
All men again, no women. Perhaps they are the unpopular, frustrated type. I m sure their agenda is as sexist as it is racist, and not very appealing to the women of Japan.
I stand corrected, there is one token woman in the first video. The Fatherland needs women to stay at home and have a lot of children for the future armies of the Reich.(Comment substantiated as soon as they raised the Nazi flag).
Governments create distinctions between people by marking them as “citizen” or “foreigner” instead of just people in order to support the nation state, and governments (all governments) profit by instilling “citizens” with fear of the “foreigner.” To imagine that the government would crack down on these scum isn’t realistic, as they would be acting against their own best interests.
Drew’s activity is a great way to monkey wrench these groups, because erosion of the importance of nationality has to start with the individual.
Could someone translate what the guy with the loudhailer is actually bellowing about?
I don’t think that hate speech should be criminalized, Debito. There is a difference between incitement to hatred and incitement to violence. Further, the best answer to a bad argument is a superior argument, not censorship. So, let them march; what we have to do is raise the consciousness of the 99% of Japanese who are not members of the Zaitokukai,so that they flinch and protest with counter-demonstrations when these racist thugs start marching, just as the British turn out with counter-demonstrations when the BNP marches. This is how you show your moral superiority.
— Note how hate speech is criminalized elsewhere, however, including Britain. I assume you’ll argue against that too, right?
As for counter demonstrations — good luck in this society, where the demonstrators physically attack the counter demonstrators and no arrests are made of the attackers (the police even crack down on the counter demonstrators, as if the latter are spoiling the demonstrators’ exclusive party. Watch movie YASUKUNI for a good example; it’s alluded to within the trailer) The violence is one-sided these days, and only the non-xenophobes are being treated as inciters.
We’ve covered this before on Debito.org, so sorry, but you’re being a bit naive. Follow the links I provided.
Kimpatsu-san, this wasn’t only hate speech. The people on the first video are clearly urging for violence, and for other illegal activities, like discrimination and harrassment, based on nationality.If they were stating their own opinions, like “We think…For Zaitokukai…We see the problem as..” hate speech or not, this is their opinion, let them speak. But when they begin urging others to think and behave like them, clearly against the law, then the problem becomes criminal. It will be the same if someone, who hates you, for example, tells you and other people “I hate Kimpatsu-san, because I think he is so ans so…”, them most likely his feelings towards you will be his and only his problem. But if he says “Kimpatsu is evil, keep your students away from him (in case you are a teacher)” or “Give him such beating that he would leave Japan immediately”, then what he is doing is criminal.
BTW, it was fun to listen that “Tastuya Ichihashi is Zainichi…”
And finally a question-isn’t it illegal to wave swastika so openly?
— In Asia? Definitely not!
When the G.O.J. does nothing to address this Nazi-esque activity it is complicit by default, and probably by intent, in my book. Unfortunately, a snapshot of the social, economic and demographic medium-to-long-term future of Japan gives me no confidence that this is going to get any better. As the country grays, heads deeper into debt, loses more its regional and global influence etc. etc. those who perceive loss, and in this case it will be across the board, will begin to feel a little more desperate, and will look for someone to blame, rather than identifying misguided policies over decades. As has been so often said here, NJ are an easy target, as, rightly or wrongly (wrongly mostly), they are seen as takers, not givers by those black-van-types, no doubt the same ilk as are shown in these videos. Unless a very radical new national dialogue about what kind of future Japan people want happens soon, with all legitimate stakeholders participating, I am not optimistic.
To the Japanese women’s soccer team, “You GO Ladies! GO!” I wouldn’t miss this game for anything.
I think that DR is basically right. When the economy was good (and this feeds back to Buckeys column), these kinds of nationalists felt that they had lost the war (in which few of them had actually taken part), but won the peace. Now that Japans economy is terminal (a la ‘burning platform’ theory), they can’t even feel smug about being number 1 in asia (never mind the world).
The rise of this kind of over-simplistic world-view that the nationalists have, will mirror Japans increasing economic irrelevance in the world. A kind of ‘loss of national prestige’ anxiety.
Of course, never great on self-criticism, many will choose to blame the outsider NJ. To be honest, Japan has only got itself to blame. They built an economy based on ever-increasing shares in overseas markets, and when the markets went bad, there was a complete failure to take responsibility for that (eg: Evil American govt. trying to ‘stitch up’ Toyota to help the US auto industry narrative).
My mother-in-law who is staying with us saw me watching this on Debito and saw the Nazi flag and was appalled. Her opinion was that these people are low-class idiots who are venting their frustrations through scapegoating others.
In one sense I can see some idea of allowing these people to “vent” themselves and make themselves feel important and so on: in the spirit of allowing free speech and so on.
However, in a society without anti-racial discrimination laws and with a racist and exclusionary koseki system, I feel extremely disturbed and troubled by the willful hate of these people. I would love NJ to organize a counter march, but you can imagine the police violently breaking it up.
Criminalizing speech, even racist and offensive speech, will not solve the problem. Weimar Germany had extensive and far ranging hate speech laws, which did nothing to stop the rise of the Nazis. My own native Canada has had some ridiculous cases where national magazines and writers have been hauled before kangaroo courts (known as Human Rights Tribunals) to defend their views and writings. One magazine editor was forced to spend $100,000 to defend his ‘crime’- he chose to publish the infamous “Mohammed cartoons” in his magazine.
I say leave these xenophobic idiots in the open and let people see what they really are. If they are driven underground by the coercive force of the government, it just gives them ‘cachet’ as martyrs. It won’t stop them, it will just make them more glamorous.
Inciting violence and criminal activity are different actions altogether. It’s the difference between saying “I hate (insert group here) and you should too” and “hey, let’s get a gang together and go kill (insert group here)”.
— With no clear and present check and balance against these advocates in Japan, do you think it will be long before they begin advocating actions against NJ? Oh wait, they are. So where do you draw the line before you change your mind and say legal sanction is necessary? When they start advocating violent action? Please make that clear.
Gotta love the parading guy in the first video wearing a Beatles shirt!
All you need is love and give peace a chance? LOL.
These jokers don’t really strike me as all that scary. They are a far cry from the Nazi bikers I’ve seen back home in America or the Slavic skinheads in Russia. Those freaks are truly frightening. This is a bunch of middle-aged salarymen in linen hats and capri shorts for crying out loud.
— If we’re talking about the banality of evil, take a look at the defendants in Nuremberg or the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (something I’m watching a documentary on right now). They don’t look all that scary either — more like a bunch of cultured gentlemen or bureaucrats. Don’t be deceived by banality — it’s the racist ideas and ideals that people advocate that one must be wary of.
I don’t think they should criminalize hate speech in Japan. Better the snake that you can see than the snake that you can’t see. By the same token, I don’t think anyone should run around asking the Japanese to take their “Japanese Only” signs. I would prefer a document-able form of discrimination that can, for example, be shown to American, and other foreign consumers so that they can consider it when making their purchasing decisions. Would you buy a car from someone whom you knew thought they were too good to sit next to you on the train? I, for one, after being discriminated against by many, many Japanese, will never buy another Japanese product.
This is not a personal slam at Debito, rather my opinion about the way the problem should be approached.
“So where do you draw the line before you change your mind and say legal sanction is necessary? When they start advocating violent action? Please make that clear.”
I thought I WAS clear. Advocating specific violence is the line. Advocating criminal activity is the line. I don’t care if they advocate action agains NJ- that’s their right. If they want to close the borders for example, it’s a stupid idea (and counterproductive), but not advocacy of illegal action.
Legal sanction is NOT necessary against offensive, racist, or politically unpopular speech. Public expressions of xenophobia should be allowed. So should public expressions of blatantly false information. So should lack of appreciation for foreign residents. There isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a right to NOT be offended.
I’m curious, how would YOU define “hate speech”? In Canada, it has become a virtual grievance industry. Damages can be awarded to those who suffer damage to their dignity, self respect, or feelings. There have even been cases where the accused has been forced to publicly apologize for their words. How Orwellian is that? We can’t force murderers and rapists to apologize, but we can demand apology from hate speech violators….
— Thank you for making that clear. And I’m sorry that you feel that Canada’s efforts to take measures against public expressions of hatred towards people has browned you off those acts being penalized (notwithstanding the lines you kindly drew above). The Zundel Case comes to mind, of course.
To answer your question: For the purposes of this discussion (targeting people based upon race, color, descent, or national origin), I will abide by the practical definition of race-based expression found in the UN CERD, which the GOJ has agreed to and still not enacted:
States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:
(a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof; (b) Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law; (c) Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination.
I showed that video to a Japanese friend of mine and he said they’re dumb and that most of those extremist racist types are usually descendants of Koreans or Chinese themselves, or burakumin. His answer kind of surprised me… is it typical in Japan to just dismiss these groups by saying they’re buraku or zainichis?
— I’ve heard it done. Got a social problem? Blame a foreigner.
Interesting you should mention Zundel. Were you aware that his conviction was overturned by the Canadian Supreme Court? Don’t get me wrong, he was a crank and an idiot. The problem was that prosecuting him gave his ideas and idiocy far more publicity than he ever could have generated on his own. He was never a citizen of Canada, and was eventually repatriated to his native Germany where he was convicted of the dread offense of Holocaust denial. To my knowledge, he did nothing violent, nor did he urge others to commit crimes. He was just a loser neo-nazi. Certainly not worth the time, effort, and money it took to chase him around and bring him up on charges.
I agree that governments should encourage non discriminatory behavior and not fund organizations that are discriminatory in nature. However, punishment for social offenses like these are best left up to, well, society. Idiots should be shunned, not respected, not invited to events where polite company is requred, and suffer social aprobation.
However, fining and/or imprisoning people for what amount to ‘thought crimes’ frankly scares the hell out of me. IMHO the coercive power of government is not needed in these cases. Crime is crime, regardless the motivation. Using law to punish the dissemination of ideas which themselves are not promoting illegality, but are merely distasteful and disgusting, is akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a flea.
I agree wholeheartedly with Justice Louis Brandeis, who coined the marvelous phrase: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”.
— Let’s not get into a big tangent about Zundel. People who want more information can click here.
Just bear in mind the point I keep making: You’re assuming sunlight in Japan, especially sunlight provided to the counterarguments to racist arguments — which, as I substantiated in links from this blog entry, is in fact being denied in Japan. Moreover, sunlight can also mean dread publicity for the racist, as you mention.
The definition of hate speech and enforcement against it differs from country to country, and some societies are more reactionary than others. But I believe it is possible to draft laws that are sophisticated enough and offer the sunlight and deterrent to hate speech, just like it is possible to draft good and bad laws to govern anything. Saying that any law that may touch upon thought crime is verboten is a bit intellectually lazy, IMHO. Under this logic, you can’t regulate the media at any time. I’ll have to disagree with that — freedom of speech is not an absolute; sometimes regulation is necessary, and I think we can agree on the lines you’ve drawn in you previous comment (i.e., violence or incitement to violence). But I believe we need laws behind those lines. Maybe you don’t. Okay. Agree to disagree. On with the discussion. It’s just sad we have to have this discussion EVERY time I suggest we do something about hate speech in Japan.
>I showed that video to a Japanese friend of mine and he said they’re dumb
I can’t quite grasp their usage of the swastika in this video. Are they claiming affiliation with the white-supremacist movement? A lack of insight and knowledge (i.e., dumbness) can be the only explanation for its adoption here. I am sure if this group asked some neo-nazis what they thought of Asians, the hatred-induced smiles of these Japanese idiots would surely turn.
Idiots, the lot. But you gotta question the ‘police escort’ these groups get everywhere they go in Japan.
I think we both agree that action should be taken to discourage hate speech and discriminatory speech. However, we disagree on what form that action should take. I think that the law is a crude instrument to use to regulate thought and speech.
In the broader context, of course freedom of speech is not absolute- to mention it is a strawman argument that I did not make. Of course there are certain areas in which speech needs to be restricted: copyright law, nondisclosure agreements, libel and slander, the above mentioned incitement to violence, to name a few.
If you could be specific on exactly how the law can/should be used to regulate speech, it would make your position a bit clearer. I haven’t heard of any place that it has been done successfully.
In the internet world, the expression DNFTT (Do Not Feed The Trolls) is common. I think we should apply it to groups like those in the videos you posted as well.
Looking at the DS-Arudo-san comment above, what strikes me about Arudo-san’s comment is why wouldn’t the GOJ want to enact basic stuff such as Article 4?
I am sorry if this comment appears a bit naive, but what is stopping it? Surely it would love to be seen to be party to such a thing? What’s stopping it?
The idea of gaiatsu?
Or the rules don’t apply to us because we are Japanese and different from everyone else?
Or we don’t have these problems (because we are Japanese and, etc.)
A racist caucus in the implementing ministry?
Or is it that that the GOJ is telling lies: it wants to be seen as having basic democratic safeguards for window dressing, but has no actual intention of implementing them?
PS Arudo-san, do you mind being called Debito-san? It seems highly unusual to call a Japanese person you you don’t know by their “first name” san. Just a thought, it struck me as a bit odd.
— Not terribly bothered if we’re communicating in English. But that’s just me.
It is difficult to understand why Germany`s former national flag (The one used during the Nazi government) is used as a symbol by the Japanese Neozis. Maybe someone could explain that to me. Are the Japanese Neonazi considering themselves subordinated to something “FOREIGN” ?
Does Germany`s former national flag is a more meaningful symbol for Japanese neonazis, than their OWN (Japanese) Fascist ones ?
It always makes me wonder if it’s a mere coincidence that Japan treats racist/offensive speech similarly to the US, who protects hate speech, incitement, obscenity under the First Amendment clause. In the 1980s and 90s, many American public and private universities set ‘speech codes’ in an attempt to regulate students’ racially and sexually offensive speeches for protecting the interests of ethnic and cultural minority students. But it just didn’t go well because the state and federal courts ruled that the codes violate the First Amendment rights. As you probably know, the US defamation law is historically not plaintiff-friendly, due to the federal court’s power to prohibit the states to impose strict liability on the lawsuit.(e.g. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323 (1974), Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988)) The only exception from the protection of free speech in the First Amendment is fighting words—speeches that are expressed to incite hatred or violence.
Can these Zaitokukai xenophobes be as malicious as Walter Chaplinsky who got arrested and was eventually convicted at the US Supreme Court for his utterly profane words–”You are a God damn racketeer and a damn Fascist!” (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942))?
The line between free speech and hate seems clear enough: Would a group of NJ and their friends be allowed to hold a peaceful counter-protest? If so, it’s free speech and let the best ideas win. If not . . .
As much as I would like to escape the bigotry that is allowed in the US, I stop myself and think, “Wait, if one form of speech is disallowed, who’s to say another would be made illegal later on?” It’s the slippery slope argument, which I am sure you’ve been beaten over the head with many times. With all the problems the US has over Japan, I actually take pride in being able to say whatever I want so long as what I say does not bring physical harm to another person (yelling fire in a crowded theater, death threats are some of the no no’s).
Let them have their march, it only puts fuel on the fire for your cause and makes them look like bigots. Several times I have lived in a city where Neo Nazi’s decided to hold a march. You know what happened? Twice as many anti-hate marchers showed up and ran them out of town.
But let’s say you held a counter march and the police gave you a tickle with the batons. That’s what social networks, cellphones, and video cams are for. You show the world the brutality you are facing against nationalist and government oppression. Yes, you get a few bruises, but you come out the hero/victim. I know very little about J culture, but as far as I understand it, Japan still has a sense of collective shame that can be played upon if they want to save face.
If the infamous Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas wanted to come to Japan and hold signs reading, “Thank God for Tsunamis” or “Thank God For Hiroshima”, would they have any chance at all of entry, or would their request be flatly turned down by the Japanese authorities? I also note how Pierre Pariseau was detained and forced to write a letter of apology to the Yasukuni Shrine caretakers in 2009, simply because he pointed out that honouring Class-A war criminals is illegal in Germany, but not in Japan.
— Do we have a source for him having to write a letter of apology?
Someone should discreetly get as many pictures of the unmasked protesters as possible, post faces up and identify them. Their employers can then be informed that they have someone who spends their weekends engaging in violent racist protests working for them.
Of course, some of them are covering their face, but not all of them.
They should be able to express their views in public, but also have to bear the consequences of expressing such views and be shunned by society at large.
How would you feel if that were done to you or a friend of yours involved in a counter-protest, and your or their employer fired you or them to avoid the public relations debacle? If you don’t protect others’ freedoms from oppression today, tomorrow, they’ll come for you….
I would not consider my proposal oppression. I think they should be allowed to protest all they want. However, they should also bear responsibility for their views.
I’m not so sure a company would be so quick to fire somebody engaging in a human rights protest. In all probably such an firing would probably result in a lawsuit and be a PR debacle in itself.
Are you saying that a company or organization should not have the freedom to dismiss employees that are members of extremist racist groups that engage in borderline violent protest?