Right-wing protesters on Hallyu (Korean Wave) Street in Tokyo hold signs calling for South Koreans to be kept off of Japanese television, March 31.
Nativist far-right groups target ethnic Koreans in Japan with discrimination and foul-mouthed criticismBy Jeong nam-ku, Tokyo correspondent
Following former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Dokdo in October of last year, relations between South Korea and Japan were quickly chilled. There was also a sharp increase in the number of anti-Korean protests by Japanese far-right groups. Starting this year, about once or twice a month protesters have taken to the streets in Shin-Okubu, Tokyo’s Koreatown, to shout inflammatory, anti-Korean phrases.
The group at the center of the gatherings is called Citizens against Special Privilege of Zainichi (abbreviated as Zaitokukai). Goichi Yasuda, who wrote a book titled “Right-Wing and Patriotism Online,” says that people join Zaitokukai because they are looking for the solidarity of a family and out of a desire for acceptance. The group is extremely xenophobic. At a joint meeting of Japan’s far-right nationalist groups, the Hankyoreh’s Tokyo correspondent had a chance to hear their unvarnished opinions. The point of the visit was to seek a more accurate understanding of the real identity of groups like this.
Hanging on the middle of the wall behind the stage was a massive Japanese flag. The people got out of their seats, and the Japanese national anthem “Kimigayo” began to play. The host of the event, who was wearing a black suit, came on to the stage, leading two other people. One after the other, the three figures bowed their heads low before the Japanese flag. The host also got down on one knee and raised the hand that was not holding the mike above his head and in various directions as he spoke in the loud tone of a demagogue. The word “South Korea” came to his lips.
“We must drive these filthy foreigners out of Japan!” the host said. The people sitting in the seats responded by saying, “That’s right!” With the introductory ceremony over, the three bowed once more to the Japanese flag one after the other as they left the stage.
This was what was taking place at the Ebarahiraoka District Citizens’ Hall in Meguro District in Tokyo, Japan, around 12:30 pm on June 1. Japanese far-right organizations including Zaitokukai had gathered for a general meeting of the conservative groups active in Tokyo. Of the 382 seats in the hall, about 130 seats were filled, not counting the ten reporters who were present. About half of the people in attendance were in their 20s and 30s. There were few older people to be seen.
The three-and-a-half-hour indoor gathering was a rare chance to hear the Japanese far right express their opinions with complete honesty. When the Hankyoreh requested press credentials, the Zaitokukai agreed, but with one caveat. The reporter would not be allowed to take any pictures of participants’ faces or conduct any individual interviews.
#'A second wave of "Koreaphobia"‘ READ MORE