Toxic Media Export

America’s always been proud of our gift for inventing both political and media tropes that become popular around the globe. But “our” latest inspiration, probably not so much:

KYOTO, Japan — The demonstrators appeared one day in December, just as children at an elementary school for ethnic Koreans were cleaning up for lunch. The group of about a dozen Japanese men gathered in front of the school gate, using bullhorns to call the students cockroaches and Korean spies. Inside, the panicked students and teachers huddled in their classrooms, singing loudly to drown out the insults, as parents and eventually police officers blocked the protesters’ entry.
[…]
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[T]he largest group appears to be the cumbersomely named Citizens Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan, known here by its Japanese abbreviation, the Zaitokukai, which has some 9,000 members…
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In interviews, members of the Zaitokukai and other groups blamed foreigners, particularly Koreans and Chinese, for Japan’s growing crime and unemployment, and also for what they called their nation’s lack of respect on the world stage. Many seemed to embrace conspiracy theories taken from the Internet that China or the United States were plotting to undermine Japan.
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While the Zaitokukai has grown rapidly since it was started three and a half years ago with just 25 members, it is still largely run by its founder and president, a 38-year-old tax accountant who goes by the assumed name of Makoto Sakurai. Mr. Sakurai leads the group from his tiny office in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district, where he taps out announcements and other postings on his personal computer.
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Mr. Sakurai says the group is not racist, and rejected the comparison with neo-Nazis. Instead, he said he had modeled his group after another overseas political movement, the Tea Party in the United States. He said he had studied videos of Tea Party protests, and shared with the Tea Party an angry sense that his nation had gone in the wrong direction because it had fallen into the hands of leftist politicians, liberal media as well as foreigners. “They have made Japan powerless to stand up to China and Korea,” said Mr. Sakurai, who refused to give his real name.
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Mr. Sakurai admitted that the group’s tactics had shocked many Japanese, but said they needed to win attention. He also defended the protests at the Korean school in Kyoto as justified to oppose the school’s use of a nearby public park, which he said rightfully belonged to Japanese children…

51 replies
  1. 1
    me says:

    And most of those “Koreans” probably were born and have lived their whole lives in Japan. I suppose they are the Japanese equivalent of “anchor babies”.

  2. 2
    Chad S says:

    Far right parties are nothing new in Japan. Hating on the Koreans isn’t either.

  3. 3
    beltane says:

    Who says the United States no longer exports anything? Wow, something the Japanese actually want to buy from us.

  4. 4
    asdf says:

    It takes a real man to pick on elementary school kids.

  5. 5
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Chad S: Scaring little children is for losers, though. Scaring old people, too.

  6. 6
    IM says:

    See, and you are all complaining that the US is not exporting anything anymore!

  7. 7
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Chad S: But “we’ve” given them hip new ways to hate on the local untermenschen (who, as Me pointed out, have been in Japan almost as long as African-Americans have been here). It’s our special talent!

  8. 8
    4tehlulz says:

    While the Zaitokukai has grown rapidly since it was started three and a half years ago with just 25 members, it is still largely run by its founder and president, a 38-year-old tax accountant who goes by the assumed name of Makoto Sakurai. Mr. Sakurai leads the group from his tiny office in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district, where he taps out announcements and other postings on his personal computer.

    The article fails to mention that those other original 24 members were CardCaptor Sakura figurines.

  9. 9
    scav says:

    ahh, the unique American styling of branded xenophobia. Houston, we have achieved makeover.

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    The full article also mentioned this group’s hostility towards westerners wearing Halloween costumes. One of the Japanese teabaggers was quoted as saying “We are not a white country”. That almost, almost, made me laugh.

  11. 11
    Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army says:

    Post-WWII Japan has something in common with the post-Civil War US: neither country really dealt with the racial hatred that (in large part) led to those wars in the first place, and that hatred still lingers in both cultures, poisoning politics and culture.

    It’s no surprise that Japanese right-wingers would appropriate Tea Party techniques. There’s probably no culture on earth that can integrate aspects of other cultures as quickly. Europeans having great success with that colonialism thing? The Japanese had their empire up and conquering in a few decades, rather than the centuries it took Europe. Once that failed, hey, this consumer manufacturing thing seems promising, let’s take it over. And they did.

    It’s not all one-way, though. Americans took Japan’s comic and animation styles for their own. Also, we’re applying the financial techniques that led to massive deflation of the yen to our own dollars, so… wooooo America.

  12. 12
    MikeJ says:

    Badtz maru shit insane.

  13. 13
    Objective Scrutator says:

    The Zaitokukai gained notoriety last year when it staged noisy protests at the home and junior high school of a 14-year-old Philippine girl, demanding her deportation after her parents were sent home for overstaying their visas.

    It sounds like they have their own Graeme Frost, as well.

    Also, the explosive growth in the Japanese nutroots may be because in 2009, Japan finally had the majority of their representatives be from a center-left party (the Democratic Party), whereas from 1955-2009 the Liberal Democratic Party, a center-right party, always had control of the parliament. The DP outnumbers the LDP in their ‘lower house’ (the House of Representatives) by a ratio of 3:1, and the ratio of the DP to the LDP in the ‘upper house’ (the House of Councilors) is about 3:2, which should make complaints about our government being one sided pale in comparison.

    Still, their nutroots has a long way to go before it can parallel America’s. While I know next to nothing about their nutroots outside of Anne’s article, I feel pretty certain that ours is infinitely more ridiculous.

  14. 14
    debbie says:

    Before they complain about others getting special privileges, I think the Japanese should stop allowing themselves special privileges when it comes to their treatment of dolphins, whales, and sharks.

  15. 15
    ItAintEazy says:

    Go look at the founder’s picture. If he doesn’t remind of you of a certain nutbaggers we know, I’ll eat my shirt.

  16. 16
    NobodySpecial says:

    @ItAintEazy: They’ve outsourced Jonah Goldberg?

  17. 17
    Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army says:

    @ItAintEazy: Racial supremacists are nearly always the ugliest, weakest, and dumbest their gene pool has to offer.

    I suspect that a lot of these people realize that, individually, they aren’t all that great, so they focus on how great their ethnic group makes them. They are insecure weenies who are only dangerous because destroying things is easier than building them.

  18. 18
    That's Master of Accountancy to You, Pal (JMN) says:

    @Objective Scrutator:

    Still, their nutroots has a long way to go before it can parallel America’s. While I know next to nothing about their nutroots outside of Anne’s article, I feel pretty certain that ours is infinitely more ridiculous.

    More ridiculous? Probably. The Japanese far-right is a lot scarier, though. It has ties to organized crime. It also has committed murders, for several decades, of people who too publicly disagree with it.

    Edit: I should also add that the Japanese far-right really is made up the same organizations that were dominated by the militarists of World War II. Most of them were never charged with crimes (for reasons a lot more complicated than are usually described), and continued to do their propagandizing. We now see the direct heirs of these people at work. Not Pantload-san, but the really scary ones.

  19. 19
    Oscar Leroy says:

    Why the heck are you blaming this on the media? The teabaggers aren’t affiliated with the media.

  20. 20
    Napoleon says:

    This is typical for Japan. There is a really heavily racist element there.

  21. 21
    Yutsano says:

    @Oscar Leroy: Thanks. I needed a laugh like that today.

    @Napoleon: Japanese racial superiority has existed for at least as long as the Heian emperors. It limited their contact with China for centuries (along with some fortunate weather) and also the Europeans until America knocked the gates open in 1853.

  22. 22
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Well, Japan did try to colonize and wipe out Korea for about 35 years, so there’s tons of bad blood there.

  23. 23
    Mark S. says:

    Wait, this idiot goes by an assumed name but lets his picture get taken for the New York Times?

  24. 24
    Yutsano says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Well, Japan did try to colonize and wipe out Korea for about 35 350 years, so there’s tons of bad blood there.

    Fixteth. The dirt between China, Korea, and Japan is a lot older than the Meiji aggressions between the two world wars.

  25. 25
    calipygian says:

    @NobodySpecial: It’s like Lucianne Goldberg went out and fucked the unholy love child of Rush Limbaugh and George Will after Bill Clinton turned her down.

  26. 26
    woody says:

    Afaik, Japan has ALWAYS had racist arrangementw regarding Koreans, especially, but also Chinese. Also the Ainu, from the northern island, Hokaido.

    Racism is common, almost universal, in more or less homogenous groups as the basis by which membersw of the dominant groups maintain unearned social advantages over despised/detested inferiors/minorities.

  27. 27
    morzer says:

    The Zaitokukai is nothing new, and nor are their tactics, alas. This sort of abuse, coupled with bullying of Korean and burakumin kids in school, is something that appeals to a small, but very unpleasant element in the right-wing spectrum of Japanese politics and society.

    “Racial superiority” didn’t stop the Japanese trying to trade with China, and later committing acts of piracy along its coastline. Essentially, when China had the power and resources, they could shut off trade and bring the Japanese to heel. When the empire weakened, or rebellions broke out, the Japanese would come back into the picture. On the whole, China was regarded as the older partner, and theories of racial superiority only really entered the picture in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, with the advent of Social Darwinism in East Asia.

  28. 28
    morzer says:

    @woody:

    This isn’t really true. Early Japan did quite a lot of trade with what would be Korea, and imported culture, technology and people from there, without any sign of racial prejudice. Similarly with China. The Ainu are a somewhat different case, because they lived in and competed for the same longterm territory, and had a very different language and general appearance.

  29. 29
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Chad S:

    Far right parties are nothing new in Japan. Hating on the Koreans isn’t either.

    Unfortunately true.

  30. 30
    celticdragonchick says:

    @morzer:

    Early Japan did quite a lot of trade with what would be Korea, and imported culture, technology and people from there, without any sign of racial prejudice.

    When? Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan regarded Korea as a province and Koreans as second class, inferior Japanese subjects.

  31. 31
    sherparick1 says:

    People are people in all the different cultures. We start organizing ourselves into tribes (including the Liberal American tribe). We identify our group with all that is good and virtuous (thereby handing ourselves a huge compliment), and those outside the group, well we quickly dehumanize. And particularly when times are tough, and we are looking at someone to blame, the powers in control will direct our animus at the weakest and most vulnerable group in society.

  32. 32
    morzer says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    EARLY JAPAN. As in c300 AD. I did say in #27 that Social Darwinism in the late 19th/20th centuries was the real source of most of modern Japanese racism/theories of racial superiority. If you trace back Japan’s relationship with Korea, you’ll find borrowings from early Korean culture and language, strong evidence for bringing in Korean families (especially craft workers) and the foundation legend for the Japanese becoming literate has them being taught by Korean scholars. It really isn’t the case that the Japanese have always had hateful views of Korea/Koreans.

    FWIW, my wife is Korean.

  33. 33
    Califlander says:

    America’s always been proud of our gift for inventing both political and media tropes that become popular around the globe. But “our” latest inspiration, probably not so much …

    I’m sure certain teabaggers would be very proud to see how they’ve inspired this particular movement, if they could tell the Japanese and Koreans apart.

  34. 34

    A cowardly fReichtard douchebag who picks on kids? All we need is hypocritical sexual behavior and he’ll be ready to become the GOP’s next minority poster child.

    @ItAintEazy: Holy shit. I was going to ask if he was a fat little fuck but decided that would be mean.

  35. 35
    very reverend crimson fire of compassion says:

    @woody: History and generalization fail. You’re confusing “racism”, which is a specific historic phenomenon with its own unique history, with xenophobia, a much broader idea. Racism is not universal, nor would it be an applicable idea to the relationship between the Japanese and the Koreans, who are ethnically “cousins”.@celticdragonchick: Comprehension fail. How does “Early Japan” translate as 19th-20th centuries? Try googling “Jomon culture” for the historic period Morzer’s referring to. Or “Empress Jingo”.

  36. 36
    Chuck Biscuits says:

    If they’re calling Korean kids “cockroaches,” then it sounds like maybe they’re taking a page out of the Hutu Power playbook as well.

  37. 37
    morzer says:

    @very reverend crimson fire of compassion:

    Ahem. Empress Jingu. Who admittedly almost certainly never existed.

    The Jomon is a little early. The Yayoi and Kofun periods are really where we start to get inscriptions and evidence of Japanese/Korean interaction.

  38. 38
    Nemo_N says:

    This proves all Japanese are racists.

    The Tea Party, however, is not representative of all Americans.

    Flawless logic.

  39. 39
    Tokyokie says:

    Most of the “Koreans” in Japan are the offspring of workers forcibly brought to Japan during the colonial era from 1910-1945, and even though they’ve been in Japan for three or four generations, they’re not citizens. Koreans, not having the same rights as Japanese citizens, have gravitated toward the economic niches that the Japanese consider beneath them, running pachinko parlors and performing janitorial services, for instance. And because some of these niches are traditionally associated with criminal activities, yes, ethnic Koreans in Japan are statistically more likely to have been charged with crimes than native Japanese. But I’m really flummoxed as to what the special privileges Japan’s ethnic Koreans enjoy. The privilege of being treated like shit by the majority of the population? Sorta like the special privilege of riding in the back of the bus that blacks in the Jim Crow-era South enjoyed.

  40. 40
    Roger Moore says:

    @me:

    I suppose they are the Japanese equivalent of “anchor babies”.

    Worse; they’re what anchor babies would turn into if we to eliminate birthright citizenship and make it almost impossible for immigrants to naturalize. Those kids are mostly third or fourth generation Japanese residents, but they have essentially zero chance of becoming citizens. For all practical purposes, they’re stateless.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:

    @ItAintEazy:

    Go look at the founder’s picture.

    He must have cleaned up for that picture. If you give him dirty clothes and fill the room with books, posters, and models, you’d have the perfect image of an Otaku.

  42. 42
    Yutsano says:

    @Roger Moore:

    If you give him dirty clothes and fill the room with books, posters, and models, you’d have the perfect image of an Otaku a hikikomori.

    FIFY. And Google that term for further explanation.

  43. 43
    DPirate says:

    @Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army: Well, the whole world loves kogals.

    I wonder if this will make WTFJapanSeriously?

  44. 44
    YellowJournalism says:

    Too bad there isn’t a Celebrity Deathmatch-style event for the Tea Party and this guy’s party.

  45. 45
    Nancy Irving says:

    People worldwide really don’t need us to inspire them to bigotry and xenophobia.

    These are natural human sins, bred in the bone. They are perhaps the original “original sin.”

    The claim to have been inspired by American tea parties is just an excuse, IMO.

  46. 46
    very reverend crimson fire of compassion says:

    @morzer: Double “ahem”. While “Jengu” is closer to the original, “Jengo” has more academic antecedents in Western literature, and is thus likelier to produce a google trail of citations. No-one ever made any claims about whether or not she existed. We were discussing historical periods, and I offered these two references as brackets for the historical period under discussion. And current research in Japanese archaeology suggests that “interaction” may be the weakest possible description of what was going on at that period. If the Jomon were, in fact, the ancestors of the current Ainu, a possibility much disputed right now, then it is very likely that the Yayoi marked the incursion of the settlers who would become the ancestors of current ethnic Japanese FROM Korea.

  47. 47
    Persia says:

    @Roger Moore: Add to this that Japan’s native population has been declining for decades, and there’s your tea-baggy paranoia.

  48. 48
    Douche Baggins says:

    Fie on these xenophobic tools.

    I met with the president of a Korean manufacturing company last week. He said that ever since the news that China has overtaken Japan as the #2 economy broke, he’s been getting calls and visits from worried Japanese businessmen, looking to form alliances to stem the yellow horde. No, that yellow horde, the other one. Not THAT one, the other… yeah, those guys. The Chinese guys.

    Economic alliances are going to stamp out the petty differences that fearful soon-to-be-minorities rely on to promote their theories of impotent rage.

    The hierarchies of superiority all over the world lend credence to what Nancy@47 says: Same shit, different landmass. In Asia, it’s Japan > Singapore > Korea > Malaysia > China > Phillipines. In GBR it’s England > Scotland > Ireland > Wales. In the US it’s CA > NY > MA > … > TX > AL > MS. (For all, YMMV depending on your rank in the pecking order.)

  49. 49
    ciotog says:

    But, why would the Tea Party inspire racism? They’re totally not racist! Even Dr. King’s DNA says so.

  50. 50
    Oscar Leroy says:

    I was being serious. Why is this The Media’s fault?

  51. 51
    maus says:

    @Oscar Leroy:

    I was being serious. Why is this The Media’s fault?

    Because the media defines and perpetuates the public narrative(s).

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