[Marxism] Japanese nativism
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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