Racist chants bellowed from a loudspeaker and Hinomaru flags were waved at a rally in Tokyo attended by about 40 people following a young person dressed in military uniform.
But what set this demonstration apart from the usual protests against Koreans and Chinese were the swastika flags fluttering beside Japan’s national flag.
“We will recover the honor of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany,” one person shouted, as the protesters marched through a busy entertainment area of the Ikebukuro district.
The rally was held on April 20, the 125th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler.
Although young Japanese protesters have recently increased their use of Nazi symbols in demonstrations, the rallies are not targeted at Jews. In their minds, the demonstrators seem to believe that Hitler was justified in trying to protect the German race from a rising threat, and that Nazi-style persecution offers way to save Japan from the increasing power of China and South Korea.
this this THIS is why history matters. THIS is why you can’t excise the ugly parts of your past and instead focus on teaching your children to love their country.
Because the minute you convince your youths that your country has always been peaceful and great and literally forged by the gods (not kidding) then of course they will react to outside criticism with anger and disbelief. And when people are that clueless they’ll hate anyone who’s different.
In March, a man in his 30s was arrested on suspicion of damaging property by ripping up copies of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at libraries and bookstores in the Tokyo area.
During questioning by Tokyo police, the man said, “I could not forgive the fact that the diary was not written by Anne Frank herself.”
Since February 2013, about 310 copies of the classic work from the young Holocaust victim have been found damaged at 38 libraries in Tokyo.
When the Anne Frank vandalism story broke, before the culprit and motive were known, there were stories written questioning if Japan’s rightward shift was partly to blame. This caused a number of rebuttal pieces that said “oh no, Japan is not and has never been anti-Semitic.”
But you don’t have to be actively anti-Semitic to accept anti-Semitic points of view. Jews in Japan are invisible; there might be a dozen synagogues in the entire country. No one knows of Hanukkah or Yom Kippur. A recent TV segment had to explain at great length what “kosher” meant.
So it doesn’t matter if every Japanese child reads The Diary of Anne Frank in school or if history classes addresses the Holocaust, Jews are still a mystery. And when a group of people are that marginalized, it doesn’t take much to convince members of the general public that said outsiders aren’t to be trusted.
Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I am in danger, don’t worry. Rallies such as the one described above are rare and no doubt sparsely attended. But on a national scale, it frightens me to think how many people might be out there who, while otherwise being perfectly nice and respectable, have no clue why Adolf Hitler or the Nazis are so scary.
A 23-year-old man who was one of the organizers of the demonstration in Ikebukuro indicated that the group was prepared to take the next step against Koreans and Chinese.
“Anti-Korean and anti-Chinese sentiment has spread through society because we raised our voices,” the man said. “We now want to push forward Nazism.”
He also suggested that Nazi Germany was justified in killing about 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.
“I believe that was a policy to separate the Jews who had been threatening the lives of ordinary Germans and to protect the pure blood of the German race,” he said. “There are also doubts over whether Anne Frank really wrote her entire diary.”
Ultra-rightists groups have consistently denied that Japan did anything wrong during World War II. They have also gone online to deny the Holocaust and argue that “The Diary of Anne Frank” is a fake.
IT’S ALL CONNECTED. One minute you’re told that your country’s behavior during the war was exaggerated. The next you hear that your country’s biggest ally was also falsely accused of war crimes. So no, Holocaust Denial is not a pillar of the current Prime Minister’s agenda, but the harder he pushes for more “patriotic” history textbooks, the easier he makes it for fringe groups to spread lies about the Chinese, Koreans, Jews, anyone.
Fuck Abe, Fuck Hashimoto, fuck every single Japanese politician who treats the rest of the world like a focus group. Your neighbors matter. Your history matters. Your actions towards minorities living in your country matters. You can foster a greater understanding of other humans or you can rally your base towards jingoism. Don’t make the wrong choice.
Photo is from a different but similar Japanese Nazi rally held in March (Japanese blog)