The Japanese right

I have a few Japanese friends, so I knew the Japanese right was pretty nuts, but I had no idea it was this far out (via Matt Yglesias):

Groups like Mr. Nishimura’s Society for the Restoration of Sovereignty, which has just a handful of core members, have recently made it their mission to counter international criticism of practices like whaling and dolphin hunting. In countless rallies, the society’s members have argued that the hunts are time-honored Japanese traditions that must be protected from Western condemnation, and “The Cove” is now their No. 1 target.

[…..]

Public fear of the far right stems from bouts of violence over the years that, while isolated, are deeply etched into the national psyche. There was the 1960 assassination of a socialist lawmaker, Inejiro Asanuma, by a sword-wielding right-wing sympathizer, for example, and the attack a year later on the president of Chuokoron, the publisher of a magazine that printed a satire about the royal family.

In 2006, a rightist burned down the house of a member of Parliament after he criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni shrine. The same year, a right-wing group hurled a firebomb at the offices of The Nikkei, a leading daily newspaper, after it published reports on the emperor’s views of the shrine.

It is time for Reason to do a “criticize the Japanese royal family” day?

97 replies
  1. 1
    Dave says:

    I remember seeing a video of the Inejiro Asanuma assassination in college. Seeing a politician run through with a samurai sword is not something you ever forget. At least the US right is (mostly) content to just be verbally crazy as opposed to physically crazy. For now…

  2. 2
    MikeJ says:

    I posted a link the other day to a radio documentary on the 1974 West Virginia textbook war that I heard this weekend. While I was listening to it, it made me think of draw the prophet day.

    The nice peaceful christians in WV who didn’t like what was said in the textbooks planted bombs in schools, shot at school buses, and conspired to blow up school buses.

  3. 3
    feebog says:

    @Dave:

    Don’t kid yourself. The far right in this country is just as or perhaps even more violent then anything in Japan. Oklahoma City comes to mind, as does the recent murder of a Doctor in his own church. Erik Rudolph ring a bell? We have more than our share of right wing wackos willing to commit violence.

  4. 4

    I remember walking along the streets of Tokyo about 6 years ago. A black van covered with Kanji script and Japanese flags drove past. On top was a four omnidirectional megaphone system through which some crazy nut was screaming something. My friend I was with was saying they wanted all the foreigners (read Koreans) out of Japan. As a tall white guy, it was a little scary.

  5. 5
    RedKitten says:

    What the hell IS it with extreme right-wingers that makes them so prone to violence?

  6. 6
    GambitRF says:

    Oddly, they’re also angry that Obama raised their taxes.

  7. 7
    joe from Lowell says:

    “It is time for Reason to do a “criticize the Japanese royal family” day?”

    No, I think it’s time for Reason to insist that these accounts of right-wing violence were all invented by evil statists, out to discredit people who are righteously upset about Japan’s budget deficit.

  8. 8

    Holy crap, a sword. Wow :)

    If only our teabaggers went on rampages with, say, chainsaws, they could approach to that level of awesome-while-horrible :)

    Of course, they would have to abandon this pretense that they are nice and it’s everybody else who’s eeeeevil…

    I say GO for it. Zombie nazi teabaggers with chainsaws, you betcha! If we have to have fucking sociopaths ready to slaughter innocents, can it at least be entertaining?

  9. 9
    jayjaybear says:

    The Left can be just as bad. It’s not, at the moment, but it has been in the past. At the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th centuries, anarchists were the big threat. A presidential assassination (McKinley), multiple bombings, etc. The Weather Underground was an active leftist terrorist group in the late 60s/early 70s. The only people they killed were killed accidentally, but they were bombers and vandalizers of property, just as the modern ELF and ALF. Some of the protesters over globalization (as demonstrated at pretty much every American-held conference of the WTO) are also leftist terrorists, including modern anarchists.

    Since then, the leftist terrorists in the West have been pretty quiet, and the rightist terrorists have ramped up. But don’t fool yourself into thinking the Left is and always has been hippie peaceniks.

  10. 10
    Third Eye Open says:

    @jayjaybear:

    Yeah, but they did it with such flair

    ***jazz hands***

  11. 11
    DanF says:

    No single country will ever corner the market on right-wing assholes.

  12. 12
    Steve says:

    @Dave: You can see that video on YouTube. It’s pretty disturbing.

  13. 13
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    Speaking of right-wing assholes, looks like they will soon be back in power.

    Good job, Firebaggers! Mission accomplished!

  14. 14
    cleek says:

    @jayjaybear:
    and the W.U. wasn’t the only left-wing terrorist group active in the 60’s. there were plenty. and they committed many bombings, murders, robberies, and kidnappings.

    but yeah, terrorism on the left is out of fashion, and right-wing terrorism is where the action is, these days.

  15. 15
    Socraticsilence says:

    Actually Jayjay- I’m willing to go into a comparison any day of the American Left and the American Right and their respective capacities for violence- lets include anarchists and anti-war left during Vietnam (though the former is arguably as leftist as Libertarians are)- run that up against the Klan, Anti-abortion Terrorists, and Militia’s and who comes out as not just more violent, but orders of magnitude more violent- put it this way when the ELF starts gunning down Oil Execs to a degree that MBA’s don’t want to go into the Petroleum industry (as has been the case for several decades with MDs and Reproductive Services) then maybe I’ll take the “what about the left” complaints seriously until that day I’ll remember that it is the right that has multiple campaigns of terror over the course of more than a century successfully obstructed progress on civil rights and altered US government policy (from reconstruction to internment to abortion- the threat of conservative violence changes minds).

  16. 16
    Socraticsilence says:

    Cleek- even in the 60s though- you could add up the decades body count and the right would come out ahead- see: the last stand of the Klan in Mississippi and Alabama.

  17. 17
    MikeJ says:

    @Socraticsilence: Last stand? You think they’re gone?

  18. 18
    Sarcastro says:

    Jezz JJ, how bout some heavy hitters? Red Army Faction (the Badher-Meinhof Gang), Japanese Red Army, Shining Path, Actione Direct or Brigate Rosse?

    I mean, shit, WTO protestors? By those lights the Freedom Marchers were terrorists. Courting violence is not terrorism… at least not on the part of the protestors.

  19. 19
    Captain Haddock says:

    Surely this is good news for Godzilla.

  20. 20
    EconWatcher says:

    jayjaybear:

    I agree with your point, but I think there’s always been a pretty clear line between the violent left and the respectable left. I don’t think too many Democratic elected officials were making excuses for the Weather Underground, the Panthers, or the Chicago convention rioters.

    But there doesn’t seem to be such a clear line on the right now. That’s the scary part.

  21. 21
    mike in dc says:

    Well, they can’t all be Yukio Mishima.

  22. 22
    Zifnab says:

    Groups like Mr. Nishimura’s Society for the Restoration of Sovereignty, which has just a handful of core members, have recently made it their mission to counter international criticism of practices like whaling and dolphin hunting.

    Fucka-you, whale! Fucka-you, dolphin!
    ~ South Park

    I thought they actually did a really good satire on this.
    @cleek: @Socraticsilence: It hardly matters in the media though. A combination of hyperbolic wingnut rhetoric (taxing greenhouse gases is exactly the same as flinging bombs at SUVs, dontcha know), the “he-said-she-said, Democrats are the same but worse” line we get from the media every day, and the trapped-in-the-60s mindset of the leading pundit-o-cracy…

    How many times has FOX News labeled DKos just as bad as the KKK? How many times have teabagging politicians accused Obama of being a full blown terrorist? The GOP spent half a decade waving the bloody flag of 9/11 while suggesting Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were flying the planes. If liberals finally did start flinging bombs, I don’t even know if we’d notice the difference.

  23. 23
    jayjaybear says:

    I’m far from trying to defend the violent Right…in terms of goals, I’m much closer to the groups I posted about than to the KKK or even the Brooks Brothers Rioters. I just wanted to add a more-or-less balancing counterclaim.

    And I acknowledge that it was a very quick overview…I didn’t even go into actual non-American Communist leftist terrorism.

  24. 24
    Woodrowfan says:

    @MikeJ:

    If I remember correctly, most of them had never even read the textbooks, but had been told, usually by their minister, that they were “evil.”

  25. 25
    Waynski says:

    @Captain Haddock: So is Godzilla a liberal? Let’s speculate. It would be irresponsible not to.

  26. 26
    debbie says:

    Groups like Mr. Nishimura’s Society for the Restoration of Sovereignty, which has just a handful of core members, have recently made it their mission to counter international criticism of practices like whaling and dolphin hunting.

    Over the weekend, I read where some Japanese official described the minke whale as the “cockroach of the ocean.”

  27. 27
    debbie says:

    And isn’t it the Japanese who cut off shark fins and then toss the live, helpless shark back into the ocean to drown?

    Why do they treat sealife so crappily when they insist on honoring their elders?

  28. 28
    Dave says:

    @Waynski:

    It depends. Is Godzilla destroying the cities so as to make us return to a more pastoral, simpler society? Or is Godzilla destroying the cities because they are a bastion of liberal elitism? I think Breitbart needs to get on this stat.

  29. 29
    frankdawg says:

    So whats the Japanese word for ‘teabagger’? :)

    I worked with a guy that lived & worked in Tokyo for 5 years. He told many interesting stories that shed a lot of light on the good & bad of the nation. There were a lot of very positive things but some really scary ones too.

    Because he was not Japanese his drivers license was in a different character set (sorry I forget the names but there are 3 sets used in official docs) one of his office mates was of Korean extraction, his great-great grandparents were brought from Korean nearly 100 years earlier & all their descendants lived in Japan. This guys drivers license was in the same character set as my friends because he was not ‘Japanese’.

    He said the guy claimed that officially there was no discrimination but there were cases where it was obvious he was ‘other’ & could not buy a house or go to clubs in certain areas.

  30. 30
    Waynski says:

    @Dave: Or his he selectively destroying right wing FEMA camp enclaves with his feet at the behest of ACORN?

  31. 31
    Third Eye Open says:

    @Waynski:

    Well, Godzilla’s sister didn’t abort Godzooky, so we can assume by the transitive property of lizard-morality that Godzilla is in fact, Pro-Life. I wonder what his portfolio looks like? I bet he owns a lot of Caterpillar and ArcelorMittal.

  32. 32
    Hypnos says:

    Let’s say one thing: the left wing violence of the late 19th early 20th century was morally justifiable.

    The anarchist bombers were people fighting against an oppressive cadre of industrial aristocrats who were murdering women and children by the hundreds by submitting them to unbearable work standards in the complete lack of safety regulations, and who sent armed goons to again murder them when they dared to protest.

    That was a fight against a form of slavery, and towards a more equitable and just society. A fight that was ultimately won – even if not in the way those advocating violence thought it would be. They were outdone, as always, by the pragmatic reformists; the socialist-democratic and social-liberal parties that invented the welfare state and gave capitalism a human face.

    But still, there is a substantial difference between violence in the name of justice, violent resistance against an oppressor, and violence in order to ESTABLISH an oppressive and exclusive social order, which is what the right wing always and inevitably wants to do.

    While both might be ultimately wrong – and ineffectual – they are far from equal in moral terms.

  33. 33
    me says:

    @mike in dc:

    On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four members of the Tatenokai, under pretext, visited the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp—the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces. Inside, they barricaded the office and tied the commandant to his chair. … Mishima stepped onto the balcony to address the soldiers gathered below. … He succeeded only in irritating them, however, and was mocked and jeered. He finished his planned speech after a few minutes, returned to the commandant’s office and committed seppuku.

    Wow, that’s a strange combination of ballsy and stupid.

  34. 34
    Sloegin says:

    @jayjaybear: Balancing something means more or less that things are equivalent. Do all political philosophies at one time or another advocate violence? Yes. Are they equivalent? Not so much.

    Are anarchists leftists?

    No. They’re ANARCHISTS.

  35. 35
    Randy P says:

    @frankdawg:

    Because he was not Japanese his drivers license was in a different character set (sorry I forget the names but there are 3 sets used in official docs)

    Katakana, probably. It’s used mostly for transliteration of words of foreign origin. It also seems to be used for a lot of brand names for some reason (I see it on Japanese-language packages in stores).

    So it would kind of make sense that his name would be spelled in katakana. But…

    his great-great grandparents were brought from Korean nearly 100 years earlier & all their descendants lived in Japan. This guys drivers license was in the same character set as my friends because he was not ‘Japanese’.

    It’s a lot harder to come up with a charitable explanation of that one, since this guy probably wrote his own name in Kanji (those are the ideograms adapted from the Chinese characters).

  36. 36
    cleek says:

    @Socraticsilence:
    IMO, to quoque only gets you so far.

    the people killed by left-wing terrorists in the 60’s will remain dead, no matter how many people right-wing terrorists kill.

    i’m just glad the left has abandoned terrorism as a political tool these days (yes, except for a handful of truly fringe groups who are thankfully content with mere vandalism).

  37. 37
    Colin Laney says:

    Take a look at Haruki Murakami’s work, particularly Wild Sheep Chase or Windup Bird Chronicle.

  38. 38
    Hypnos says:

    [This comment is a follow-up to a previous comment that is in moderation. Sorry for the chronological screw up.]

    Oh, and the revolutionary communist terrorist groups of the 1960-70s in Europe were assholes virtually undistinguishable from their nazi-fascist counterparts.

    The oppression they claimed to be fighting against was extremely overstated, and besides it had been amply shown that the system could be reformed from within, and without the need to resort to violence. Furthermore, their ultimate aim would have been the establishment of some kind of authoritarian society based on hardline communist ideals, and by then there had been ample time for the Soviet Union to show its true face.

  39. 39
    Waynski says:

    @Third Eye Open: You make an excellent point but I’m not giving up on Godzilla being a secret liberal. He could be a pro-life democrat like Bob Casey. Too bad he didn’t challenge Sestak and Specter in the primary although his chances may have been better in South Carolina.

  40. 40
    demimondian says:

    @Randy P: No, actually, that isn’t true.

    I would write my name in katakana, just as my Korean neighbors (and their Korean-American children) would. That’s because there is not sequence of kanji for any of our names. So, however, would my Chinese-American neighbors down the street, despite the fact that there are ideograms for their names. In principle, any of my Japanese-American (Nissei) colleagues should do the same.

    And, yes, discrimination is rife there.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:

    @Randy P:

    Katakana, probably. It’s used mostly for transliteration of words of foreign origin. It also seems to be used for a lot of brand names for some reason

    My understanding is that it’s roughly the equivalent of using italics in a language that uses the Latin alphabet. Foreign terms are written in a distinctive style so readers will know they’re foreign and not be confused trying to figure out their meaning in their native language. Brand names are often written in kana rather than kanji because kana are more universal than kanji, and also, I suspect, because Katakana is bolder graphically and hence better for ads.

  42. 42
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    Godzilla is extremely liberal. He (or rather she) is Green.

  43. 43
    QuaintIrene says:

    But what about Gamera, friend of children?

  44. 44
    Biff Longbotham says:

    @EconWatcher: Maybe time has blurred some of our memories, but the phrase “Chicago convention rioters” needs some context lest it unfairly tar the ’68 Democratic Convention’s anti-war protesters. After all, it was (in the words of the Walker federal commission’s investigation) a police riot.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Sloegin:

    Are anarchists leftists?

    Yes, they are, just as libertarians are rightists. “Left” and “right” doesn’t automatically mean “Democrat” or “Republican.”

    Basically, anarchists and libertarians are the same thing on opposite sides of the spectrum. This is why so many of us point out that the spectrum is a circle not a straight line: when you get far enough out on either end, the edges bear more similarity to each other than they do to anyone in the middle.

  46. 46
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Isn’t the real elephant in the room the connection that today’s right in Japan has with the militarists who dominated Japan before and during World War 2? ISTM that Japan has done a much worse job than Germany in acknowledging its guilt about WW2.

    When I was learning Korean, I was surprised at the anti-Japanese sentiment that always seems to be lurking beneath the surface in Korea (the same can be said about the rest of East Asia). Its not all fun and games and anime and smartphones…

  47. 47
    mike in dc says:

    I always thought of libertarians as anarchists with property, money and guns.

  48. 48
    ThatPirateGuy says:

    @Dave:

    Godzilla: Conservadem(I wish he were liberal)
    Mothra: liberal
    Godzilla jr. : Kuccinich
    Space Godzilla: Republican
    Mecha-godzilla: Pork Spending(I still feel that america needs to fill the mecha-godzilla gap though.)

  49. 49
    dadanarchist says:

    @me: Wow, that’s a strange combination of ballsy and stupid.

    Great novelist though.

    Paul Schrader (who wrote Taxi Driver) made an excellent film about Mishima that is well worth everyone’s time.

  50. 50
    Martin says:

    @Zifnab:

    Fucka-you, whale! Fucka-you, dolphin!
    ~ South Park

    LOL. That was the first thing I thought of when I read this.

  51. 51
    Paul in KY says:

    If you ever want to piss off a Korean, misidentify them as Japanese.

    They do have alot to be pissed off about.

  52. 52
    Scott de B. says:

    Wow, that’s a strange combination of ballsy and stupid.

    Much like Pearl Harbor.

  53. 53
    Martin says:

    @Waynski: I would think so. I’ve always taken his attitude toward western buildings as a manifestation of an anti-nuke policy – he seems a bit bitter about how he came about. He fought Hedora pretty hard – a conservative would have just hit him up for a campaign contribution and then apologized for how the puny humans were treating him. He’s certainly very anti M-I complex, with all that exotic military shit being thrown at him.

    If we’re lucky, some sea turtle will mutate into a giant monster in the gulf and periodically rampage across the Bible belt. Most of them would still deny that he exists even after flattening their house, though, so maybe it wouldn’t work out.

  54. 54
    Dave says:

    @ThatPirateGuy:

    So does that make King Ghidorah a tea-bagger? Basically comes in, stirs a bunch of shit up but achieves nothing of note?

    And where does Rodan fit in all of this? Third-party? The Ross Perot of monsters?

  55. 55
  56. 56
    Waynski says:

    @Martin: I’d like to see a mutated pelican. That would be cool too. Especially if it scooped up Haley Barbor and Bobby Jindal.

  57. 57
    ThatPirateGuy says:

    @Dave:

    Yes King GHidorah is a Teabagger: always controlled by others for nefarious purposes.

    Rodan(Fire Rodan): Firebagger

  58. 58
    magurakurin says:

    I’ve been in Japan for a long time now. The big black buses are a common site. I always wondered about them. I have a good friend who graduated from Kyoto University(more or less Yale in terms of status here) and he is a super sharp guy and loves to talk politics. I asked him about the big black vans one day. They actually have very little to do with politics. They are mostly all Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. He told me they will buy or rent a small tract of land near development and park the truck there, blasting away in between laps around the city. They basically extort the developers by threatening to be an ongoing nuisance and demanding a payment to go away. They can get away with because they are protected in ways as a “political” organization.

    The dolphin hunt in Taji is entirely unique to that little town and most people in Japan are totally unaware of it. There is a known Yakuza connection to the hunt and the sale of the meat in that area(nobody else eats it). The Taji hunt is way a bad situation.

    The reason people are afraid of the “nationalist” is because they are scary guys covered in tatoos with the odd missing digit on their hands. Yakuza is bad news.

  59. 59
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    @ThatPirateGuy: We know Mothra is a liberal thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000 pointing out the famous Mothra Graham dancers.

  60. 60
    ThatPirateGuy says:

    @Cheryl from Maryland:

    Exactly, that is why I call the big G a conservadem, who else would treat liberals like he treats mothra?

  61. 61
    Seebach says:

    The extreme right wing nationalists and the yakuza are in cahoots, so there’s a reason the Japanese don’t try taking on their rightist past. Especially in a culture where you’re taught to smooth over your differences.

    Oh, there’s also a great book on the history of the yakuza: Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld, Expanded Edition by David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro

    Basically, the US occupation under the anti-communist regime basically funded and nurtured the Japanese right wing and yakuza to help crack down on the socialist movement that was growing at the time.

    The Japanese haven’t done themselves any huge favors, but the US is partially responsible for Japan never revisiting their WWII sins and coming clean.

  62. 62
    PurpleGirl says:

    @dadanarchist: Agree completely. In the late 60s, while in high school, I read a number of his novels (in translation) and was awed by him. I was sorry when he killed himself.

  63. 63
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Martin: If we’re lucky, some sea turtle will mutate into a giant monster in the gulf and periodically rampage across the Bible belt. Most of them would still deny that he exists even after flattening their house, though, so maybe it wouldn’t work out.

    Maybe, but it would be funny to watch from the sidelines.

  64. 64
    Royce says:

    @cleek: but yeah, terrorism on the left is out of fashion…

    Communism has a horrible history of bloodshed, from Stalin to Mao and with anarchist revolutionaries.

    Yet Liberals have been conflated to be “the Left” by our media and apparently in the minds of The People … even though liberals don’t have a history of political violence. How is this so widely accepted without protest?

    It seems Liberals have been erased from common discourse, and stuffed into the communist side of the spectrum. The idea that all politics is on a spectrum from Right or Left is as ridiculous as saying we live in a black and white world. There is color.

    The lumping of liberals into “The Left” is a tactic.

  65. 65
    trollhattan says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    ISTM that Japan has done a much worse job than Germany in acknowledging its guilt about WW2.

    This seems to be the case and continues to this day in many respects. The Rape of Nanking didn’t really happen, or the Chinese were asking for it, or somesuch. Also, too, Roosevelt forced Japan to attack the U.S., etc.

    We do share one special bond with Japan: they’re the other modern, industrialized nation with a death penalty. Party!

  66. 66
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    OT, but I got this in my Jane Hamsher email:

    Progressives must now choose: do we pursue a corporate-sponsored model functioning within the party that ultimately accepts the party’s goals, or are we willing to fund an independent movement, capable of freely advocating for progressive values from the outside?

    Which I could only read as: “Do we pursue working with the Democratic party to try to change it, as frustrating and slow as it may be; or do we whine from outside the party, and not get anything done, but feel morally superior?”

  67. 67
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    I have a few Japanese friends, so I knew the Japanese right was pretty nuts, but I had no idea it was this far out

    See, this is what I always thought was really unfair about the Bush-era slamming all Americans as crazy rightwing nuts. I think in a lot of “culturally leftist” Western European countries are, like Japan, in denial about the existence and influence of rightwing nuts in their own countries–think America pre-Nixon.

  68. 68
    tech98 says:

    Can you please fix the site so that text wraps in IE8 instead of running on for miles off the right side of the column?

    This has been going on for weeks now.

    And don’t tell me to use Firefox.

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne says:

    OT: I would make fun of Texas for ending up with a crazy LaRouchie as one of their Democratic House candidates, but it’s not like this is the first time this has happened.

  70. 70
    Sarcastro says:

    But what about Gamera, friend of children?

    I do believe he is really neat. And filled with turtle meat.

    We’re all eating Gam-Ah-Rah!

  71. 71
    Seebach says:

    The extreme right wing nationalists and the yakuza are in cahoots, so there’s a reason the Japanese don’t try taking on their rightist past. Especially in a culture where you’re taught to smooth over your differences.

    Oh, there’s also a great book on the history of the yakuza: Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld, Expanded Edition by David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro

    Basically, the US occupation under the anti-communist regime basically funded and nurtured the Japanese right wing and yakuza to help crack down on the (MODERATION REMOVED) movement that was growing at the time.

    The Japanese haven’t done themselves any huge favors, but the US is partially responsible for Japan never revisiting their WWII sins and coming clean.

  72. 72
    fucen tarmal says:

    we could use a man like noburu takeshita again….mostly because takeshita is the coolest name this side of boutros boutros, and in the pantheon with God Shammgod.

  73. 73
    ellaesther says:

    This reminds me of how I felt when I learned of British responses to Obama calling BP “British Petroleum.”

    Which is to say: Whoo-hoo! We’re not the only country with nuts!

  74. 74
    PeakVT says:

    @ellaesther: The problem is our nuts frequently get elected.

  75. 75

    @tech98:

    And don’t tell me to use Firefox.

    Use a real browser.

  76. 76
    fucen tarmal says:

    @ellaesther:

    this, from vietnam.

    Three men who spent nearly a decade in prison on rape charges were freed after an acupuncturist determined that they were virgins, a police official says

  77. 77
    kdaug says:

    Why does “Right-Wing” seem to be international slang for “batshit crazy”?

    Perhaps because as the world accelerates at an exponential rate into the future, those who want to hold onto the past become increasingly unhinged?

    All my RW relatives imagine a happy past of America in the 50’s, “Ozzie and Harriet/Leave It To Beaver”-style. They forget (conveniently) the 90% top marginal tax rate, “White” and “Colored” everything, and “Duck and Cover”/Tippy the Turtle/fallout shelters in the backyard.

    These Japanese RW long for the days of the Emperor and Samurai. They forget (conveniently) the feudalism, the mass poverty of the majority, and their utter isolation (they called themselves the “Land of the Rising Sun” because they didn’t know about the American continents – and really never bothered to look further east. The emperor was god incarnate on earth, after all, and he said they were the eastern-most land, so that’s that).

    Hell, right wingers worldwide should really go all-out and demand we give up fire and the wheel.

  78. 78
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Do we fight, side-by-side with people we don’t always agree with, to keep the GOP crazies out of office so they don’t further trash our country , or do we hand them the keys to power wrapped in a giant pink bow, all because Obama didn’t kiss our whiny white butts?

  79. 79
    grumpy realist says:

    Heh. Worked in Japan for over a decade, and yeah, we had the guys in the sound-trucks going by the building all the time. (I worked on the same block that the LDP headquarters was on.)

    I was also very amused by the number of Japanese politicians who would say something “for domestic consumption only” and then get all surprised when a big bruhaha blows up, because of course those foreigners aren’t supposed to understand Japanese. (The one I really remember was when some politician piped up when Taiwan and China were having one of their spats and said that that Taiwan should really be returned to the Japanese…)

  80. 80
    Catsy says:

    @Randy P:

    It’s a lot harder to come up with a charitable explanation of that one, since this guy probably wrote his own name in Kanji (those are the ideograms adapted from the Chinese characters).

    That is actually the key question here: how did they write their own name?

    If the ethnically-Korean person wrote their own name in kanji–not entirely unheard-of, as they use Chinese characters to a lesser degree in Korea as well–then yes, this is an example of racism. Anti-Korean racism in Japan runs very deep, it persists across generations, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    With that said, it’s just as likely that their name was written in katakana because that’s the script you use to write foreign names and loanwords. You can think of katakana as being roughly analogous to italic text–in addition to foreign words, it’s also used for emphasis and onomatopoeia.

  81. 81
    kdaug says:

    @fucen tarmal: You forgot the “Golly!”

  82. 82
    DMcK says:

    More specifically, katakana symbols represent phonemes, which facilitate the representation of foreign or other words that are difficult to represent with the traditional kanji symbols. For example, “America” is broken down, with corresponding phonetic symbols, as “A”-“me”-“ri”-“ka”. It can get pretty complicated as certain Western phonemes are often hard to match up with Japanese ones. Also, you often see tiny katakana translations above kanji characters in newspapers and magazines, to assist Japanese people who may not be completely literate in the entire kanji symbology. This, then, represents the sum total of the knowledge I retained from a year studying Japanese in college…

  83. 83
    fucen tarmal says:

    @kdaug:

    when you have known bouty-bout as long as i have…

  84. 84
    Quiddity says:

    @RedKitten: It’s just the way they are.

  85. 85
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    @ThatPirateGuy: I dunno, per MST 3K, Godzilla is in favor of public nudity (at least when he goes to the bathroom). That’s liberal. Or else he is a dog.

  86. 86
    JL says:

    This is the same crowd that cheered on the civilians that jumped from the cliffs of Saipan, who were prepared to fight to last Japanese after Nagasaki, and who stormed the Imperial Palace intent on destroying Hirohito’s surrender recording.

  87. 87
    jl says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    What does Hamsher mean by ‘independent movement’?

    Something within the Democratic party, or a third party.

    If a third party, that is a loser. And I cannot imagine any kind of grand alliance with the teabaggers. For me, even one off single issue alliances with teabaggers are a stretch because they are so saturated in total crazy.

    Today I read that they are worries about over regulation of the likes of BP. That is crazy.

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Which I could only read as: “Do we pursue working with the Democratic party to try to change it, as frustrating and slow as it may be; or do we whine from outside the party, and not get anything done, but feel morally superior?”

    It’s easy money to bet on the need to feel morally superior overriding any other consideration.

    Some progressives seem to hate moderates much more than they hate conservatives and would prefer that Republicans return to power. They expect to be ignored by the GOP and can lazily stew in the juices of own supposed moral superiority stifled while being shuffled off to the sidelines.

    But the idea that a Democratic Party administration would not seek progressive approval for their every move is intolerable. They can’t stand it. And so you get the inanity usually reserved for the Naderites that Obama is the same as Dubya.

    What does Hamsher mean by ‘independent movement’?

    Probably something equivalent to a left wing tea bagger movement, with Hillary Clinton as its spiritual head.

  89. 89
    New Yorker says:

    Reading stuff like this makes me less embarrassed about being an American. I can point to other developed countries and say, “see? Your right-wingers are just as batshit as ours!”

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    Probably something equivalent to a left wing tea bagger movement, with Hillary Clinton as its spiritual head.

    Actually, that would be awesome, because I think Hillary would give a speech a lot like this one.

  91. 91
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Yep. It has been five decades and counting without any acknowledgment from the Japanese Government regarding the forcible sexual slavery of tens of thousands of Korean, Chinese, Phillipina, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch and Australian women.

    Cases can take literally decades to wind through the Byzantine legal system, and it seems likely that none of the “comfort women” will survive to ever get any judgment or recognition of the crimes committed against them.

  92. 92
    JL says:

    “But the idea that a Democratic Party administration would not seek progressive approval for their every move is intolerable. They can’t stand it”.

    On the flip side: Self-styled moderate-conservative democrats refuse to acknowledge the GOP rip-tide that has drawn the party establishment inexorably rightward. In their conceit, they deem themselves pragmatists. In fact, they are essentially Eisenhower-era, moderate republicans. Thirty, forty, or fifty years ago they would have been republican stalwarts. It’s only their fear of the unalloyed, rabid American-styled fascism of todays GOP that today compels them to vote democratic, and/or dissuades them from rejoining the ranks of the republican party.

  93. 93
    Lysana says:

    @debbie:

    And isn’t it the Japanese who cut off shark fins and then toss the live, helpless shark back into the ocean to drown?

    Only if they’re harvesting it to sell to China. Chinese cuisine features shark fin. Japanese does not, last I saw.

    (Side note: I ate shark fin once at dim sum, not quite knowing what it was until afterward. The damn stuff is pure texture, no taste. It could be faked so easily. It makes even less sense.)

  94. 94
    Calouste says:

    @New Yorker:

    Except that in most other developed countries the crazy right-wingers have their own separate political parties that most other parties avoid interacting with. Well, I guess you could say that the crazy right-wingers in the US have their own separate political party as well. Too bad that it is the second largest in the country.

  95. 95
    Shaun says:

    I live in Tokyo. Love the city and the country but there are definitely a lot of dark secrets here.

    On almost all forms or documents even Japanese people write their names in both kanji (Chinese characters) and katakana. This is because each kanji can be pronounced in several ways and katakana is a phoenetic alphabet that can only be pronounced one way. Why they use katakana instead of hiragana – which is the other phoenetic alphabet – I haven’t figured out. Katakana is used for borrowed or foreign words and hiragana is used for Japanese origin words. Katakana is all straight lines and hiragana is mostly curvy lines.

    Some koreans use kanji for their names but the Japanese still recognize the names as unjapanese so it’s not too helpful for blending in and avoiding discrimination. One of my girlfriend’s best friends’ family moved from Korea four generations ago. She changed her last name in order to get into a better university. Even fourth generation Korean immigrants have to carry their Alien Registration card at all times or risk being arrested. This may have been what the guy in frankdawgs story was complaining about – and not drivers liscenses.
    In general, tall blonde guys have it good here. It’s the Koreans, Chinese, SE Asians and Africans who have to put up with a lot of crap.

  96. 96
    Uloborus says:

    @Shaun:
    Yep. Asia is full of the kind of racism we think is fringe here. Japan doesn’t have a monopoly, although they’ve certainly committed the most war crimes because of it. Westerners they have varying opinions of, but other Asian ethnic groups? Oh, man.

  97. 97
    Thrashbluegrass says:

    @tech98:

    Use xxxterm

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