(eng) The Extreme Right In Japan

Arm The Spirit (ats@etext.org)
Mon, 6 May 1996 18:22:17 +0200

The Emperor's Last Stand - Fascism In Japan

Far-right groups in Japan total more than 100,000 members. At
first glance seemingly on the fringes of society, they guarantee
the continued existence of social conditions, because in Japan
organized crime and fascists work hand in hand. While the former
control the gaming halls, the latter go on propaganda tours.

By Andreas Hippin

A heavy rain beats down upon the bus which is to bring me to
the right-wing extremist boss. In the parking lot of the "King
Start Parlor", a gaming hall or pachinko' where many Japanese
leave behind their hard earned money, loud-speaker cars of the
far-right have been parked for several weeks. Not to protest
against the pachinko for taking away working peoples' time,
money, and understanding: this parking lot in Takatsuki, a bland
city of 300,000 people outside of Osaka, is a stronghold of the
Pachinkos, a sort of predecessor to pinball machiness with
the added chance of winning money, are a massive pastime for the
Japanese. The profits from the more than 18,000 gaming halls,
most of which are controlled by the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza'
("those who stand in the shadows"), account for more than 25% of
all revenues in the Japanese service sector, and in 1994 alone
they brought in 30.4 trillion yen, six times the amount lost in
bank failures.
It's no coincidence that the loud-speaker cars, covered from
top to bottom with slogans, are parked here. The nationwide
alliance of more than 800 far-right groups known as Zen Ai
Kaigi', the "National Association of Patriotic Organizations", is
also known as Yakuza Kaigi'. The Japanese right-wing does not
suffer from financial difficulties, their income mostly gathered
from membership dues. Their convoys alone - transport vehicles,
busses, and loud-speaker cars with mirrored windows - cost
millions. Private usage of these semi-militarized vehicles is
prohibited. The far-right's favorite form of action is the gaisen
katsudoo', now so well known that the phrase has become part of
modern Japanese speech. It stands for a convoy of right-wing
vehicles, blasting messages to the people over loud-speakers.
Takchiko Noguchi from the neighboring city of Hirakata is
taking part in this Sunday morning's action. His organization,
Koodooschinkai' or "Association which Follows the Path of Tenno",
which is dedicated to the holy path of the Japanese imperial
household, has around 60 members and is in good contact with
other groups all across the country - a fact which discounts the
notion that the Japanese right is more fragmented and
insignificant than the left. And of course the group uses the
newest model of untappable mobile telephones, and a fax machine,
thus providing a comprehensive communications structure for all
of Japan. Noguchi sacrifices around 30 Sundays and holidays each
year for the movement. Today the convoy will travel to the
birthplace of the former Finance Minister, social democrat
Masayoshi Takemura, alleged to be responsible for recent bank
crisis. Hitler photos or swastikas, which can be bought for car
decorations in nearly every shop here, aren't part of the decor
in Noguchi's house, which is also the group's headquarters. On
the walls are images of the Emperor, as well as Yukio Mishima,
the writer who killed himself with a sword after addressing the
Japanese armed forces. Of course Noguchi's son is also a member
of the party. His favorite song is the Emperor's hymn Kimigayo',
a fact which makes communication with other 18-year-olds somewhat
Eventually, the entire group assembles at Noguchi's place.
All are wearing uniforms, a blue product of someone's
imagination, decorated with various insignia and ribbons
according to the significance of the wearer. And off they go,
followed by the curious stares of the neighbors. At Ohi Hachiman,
just off of the Meiji highway, the rest of the convoy arrives, a
well-organized alliance of a variety of organizations with names
like Shin Nihon Tenchuusha' ("Steel Helmet"), Nihon Ooka Gijuku'
("Research Association for a Great Japan"), and Kooshintai'
("Revenge for Tenno/Association for Holy Punishment") to name but
a few. All of the groups' names are in some way connected to the
Emperor. The re-establishment of the Emperor's authority is also
the focal point of their programme, in addition to their desire
to re-apply Japan's pre-War Constitution and to cleanse the
education system of Western influences. The most important
aspect, however, especially for the Yakuza, is anti-communism,
making the groups willing storm troopers against trade unions
during labor struggles and allowing for a type of
conflict-resolution which can't be achieved by the police.
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, Japan's
ultra-right reformed itself, thanks to some important allies such
as Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi (1957-60), who had co-signed the
Declaration of War against the United States and Great Britain.
Kishi, while serving time in Sugamo prison for war crimes, met
Yoshio Kodama, who later resigned his post as Justice Minister on
account of his contacts to the far-right and organized crime, and
Ryoichi Sasakawa, godfather of Japan's motor boat sports industry
and advisor to "Reverend" Su Myung Mun, whose Unification Church
has provided weapons to Japanese right-wingers. As a fighting
force against the left, the Japanese far-right provides an
invaluable service to the Yakuza as well as the corporations.
The police are also present on the highway. But neither are the
cars in the right-wing convoy searched for weapons nor are
people's identity cards checked. The leaders on both sides know
each other well. The topic of right-wing violence is only given a
few lines of mention in annual police reports. The murder of
Tomohiro Kojiro, a reporter for the daily newspaper Asahi
Shinbun', on May 4, 1987 is not even mentioned. And it's not only
communists who think that the police and fascists work together
when it comes to observing and disrupting the activities of the
Communist Party of Japan (CPJ).
The convoy is allowed to drive within a few meters of
Takemura's house in Yookaichin in Shiga prefecture. Except for a
few absurd claims to the effect that Takemura is actually a North
Korean spy, the supposed topic of the rally, the bank crisis, is
not even mentioned. That's because it touches on circles which
the right are allied to. These are more than grateful for the
fact that Takemura offered himself as the lighting rod in the
scandal, thereby keeping the honorable society free from shame.
That's how Murayama's ex-Socialist Party proved its ability to
After a few words with the police, the convoy heads back to
the highway, but not before blasting passers-by with the
Emperor's hymn and creating traffic chaos in the prefectural
capital Otsu.
According to Keiichiro Arai, local boss in Shiga prefecture,
the far-right gives people a place to feel at home, something
which is often lacking in high-performance Japanese society for
those who aren't able to adapt to the increasingly fast-paced
world, those who drop out of school, those who are seen as
somewhat backwards by others. Considering the increasing number
of young people who aren't able to find jobs after finishing
school - not just a problem for Japanese college students -
experts predict that the far-right in Japan will attract more
members in the coming years.
Arai traces the history of Japan's far-right back to the
French Revolution, an intellectual position which one wouldn't
expect from most adherents to his way of thinking. And yet he
views the Japanese right as minzoku-ha', ethnic nationalists, a
fact which would make them natural allies for the German
far-right, if not for the fact that there can only be one chosen
people. The uniqueness of Japanese fascists and their constant
tendency to look inward - in addition to a serious language
barrier - has until now kept Japan's far-right from networking at
the international level or from viewing itself as the vanguard in
Asia of an international movement.
Friends interested in Triple Oppression theory would no
doubt be intrigued with Arai's complaint that Japanese fascists
faced constant discrimination from Germany's National-Socialists.
It's also interesting how Arai feels about the atomic bomb which
was dropped on Hiroshima, stating that something could only have
been inflicted upon "yellow" people, not "white" Germans.
Both Arai and Noguchi reject actions by German neo-fascists,
such as attacks on homes inhabited by non-Germans. And yet they
stress the need to deal with foreigner crime in certain
neighborhoods, such as Kabeki in Tokyo or in southern Osaka.
Violence cannot be ruled out, they say, especially on the part of
the Japanese residents in these districts - we know this
"argument" all too well - since they no longer feel safe on their
own streets. A paranoid obsession with excess numbers of
foreigners, considering that only 300,000 illegal immigrants live
in this nation of 120 million people. But constant media reports
of increasing rates of "foreigner crime", which, as in Germany,
usually mean little more than violating residency laws, seems to
give support to the far-right.
During the entire trip, the convoy encountered no anger or
counter-demonstrations from passers-by or other drivers. At a
time when Japan is seeking to re-examine its place in the world,
regionalist and isolationist tendencies are gaining influence,
thereby giving more strength to the right.
In any case, the busses and cars of the far-right would be
easy targets for any serious opponents.

(Translated by Arm The Spirit from Junge Welt, April 6/7, 1996)

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