[Marxism] Japanese nativism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 22 12:24:16 MDT 2017

(From a Harper's magazine article behind a paywall. Contact me if you'd 
like a copy.)

Yet not even Japanese excellence could insulate the country from 
economic disaster. In 1990, the stock and real-estate markets collapsed. 
Desperation and bitterness gave way to a proliferation of angry 
nationalist rallies, which have continued to the present day. Protesters 
took to gathering in the streets and harassing ethnic minorities, whom 
they accuse of taking away their jobs. Koichi Nakano, a political 
scientist who studies these groups at Sophia University, in Tokyo, told 
me, “These are basically spontaneous, rather fluid networks of haters.” 
Most are working-age men who have never managed to find secure 
employment; Nakano said that 37 percent of Japanese workers today have 
sporadic, temporary positions.

When I was in Tokyo, not long ago, on any given day I would see dozens 
of people carrying Japanese flags and shouting vague, violent threats in 
minority neighborhoods or outside foreign embassies. Nakano estimates 
that there are more than a hundred nationalist groups that convene 
across the country. They are not on the fringe: A leader of the group 
Zaitokukai, which has called for a large-scale massacre of Korean 
residents, has been photographed hobnobbing with a senior member of the 
Liberal Democratic Party, the current ruling party. Several L.D.P. 
officials have been photographed posing with the head of a neo-Nazi 
group in front of a Japanese flag. Even the more centrist members of the 
L.D.P. proudly refer to their country’s ethnic makeup as “homogeneous” — 
an impossible claim to make of a former colonial empire. Nearly half of 
Abe’s cabinet belongs to a group known as the League for Going to 
Worship Together at Yasukuni, a shrine in Tokyo that commemorates 
Japanese soldiers, including a number of convicted war criminals. Abe’s 
wife makes pilgrimages to Yasukuni, and Abe sends offerings on holidays.

One afternoon, I attended a festival at the Yasukuni Shrine. The 
entrance was lined with tens of thousands of paper lanterns emitting a 
warm, golden light. Visitors wandered around eating vanilla soft serve. 
I asked a man why the festival was so important to him. “Koreans!” he 
said, and thrust his middle finger into the air. “Fuck Chinese!” He wore 
a shirt with a Japanese flag and text that read Japanese! be proud! you 
are the descendants of the Yamato race.

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