Pictures: Ultra-Nationalist Demonstrators Overwhelmed by Anti-Racist Counter-Protest


Lately, it seems like every time we psych ourselves up to go back to writing our usual knob gags (that we stay up all night coming up with for you), some serious and/or groundbreaking news comes along that demands our attention and, alas, knob gag restraint:

Yesterday, a hard right, ultra-nationalist group known as the Zaitokukai (roughly translated as: “Citizens Against the Special Privileges of Koreans in Japan”) held a meeting of around 100 members in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, with a demonstration march planned directly after.

Much to the surprise and chagrin of the Zaitokukai, however, they found themselves outnumbered three to one by a huge cluster of counter-protesters holding anti-racist signs and shouting down the right wingers as they marched. Taken together with the momentous J-League punishment of the Urawa Reds for racist fan behavior doled out last week, this clash falls just shy of marking a new trend in Japanese anti-racist sentiments, but it certainly points to an increased dialogue on the topic – possibly in light of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Professional photographer and TokyoDesu friend Kjeld Duits was there to photograph the events as they unfolded and has graciously given us permission to post them here:

(for reference, the side holding the rising sun flags are, unsurprisingly, the Zaitokukai.)

zaito1 zaito2 zaito3 zaito4 zaito5 zaito6 zaito7 zaito8 zaito9 zaito10 zaito11 zaito12 zaito13 zaito14

This is the kind of stuff that makes us proud to call Tokyo home.

About the photographer: Kjeld Duits is a journalist and photographer that has lived in Japan long enough to cover the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. He runs a number of popular Japan blogs and can be reached via Twitter or his Facebook page

*All photos are used with the express permission of the photographer. Unauthorized use of the above photographs is prohibited.

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    • Daisuke 21 March, 2014 at 13:52 Reply

      Fuckyou Gatewood. “there’s hope for you yet, Japan!” japan’s a better country than your shit mudhole you call america.

      • simonsaysjapan 23 March, 2014 at 01:26 Reply

        Daisuke- “…you call America”?
        I’m just wondering what you think other people call America? You must admit that calling it ‘Shit Mudhole’ wouldn’t do much for tourism and wouldn’t look great on the cover of the passport. You could write it on the Japanese passport however, since in my 15 years living there I probably only met a handful of people who could speak English enough to understand what it meant.
        Good luck with the anger management courses.

  1. Brad 19 March, 2014 at 16:08 Reply

    I can’t believe it is legal in Japan to partially conceal one’s face at a demonstration. In a true democracy, such a demonstration would be dissolved by the police immediately (Vermummungsverbot in Germany). Those nationalists are weak cowards.

    • Azam 20 March, 2014 at 12:30 Reply

      The white medical “mask” you see in the pictures are to prevent sickness from spreading, such as a common cold. It’s a normal thing to see if someone has a small cold and not seen ad a big deal in public and is actually quite considerate to those around you.

  2. josh burke 19 March, 2014 at 20:37 Reply

    being anti-favoritism is not being racist. just because they want to stop the unfair special rights that ungrateful Koreans get doesn’t mean they are supporting discrimination. everyone here needs to get a clue. stop fighting with your fellow countrymen and recognize the real enemy!

    • Josh Pichard 20 March, 2014 at 01:55 Reply

      Well Josh (not real name), to believe that Zainichi Koreans (Japanese of Korean ancestry, for the confused) get special status, you first need to believe they are in fact Koreans. Considering most don’t speak Korean and have never been to Korea would probably lead most sensible folks to believe that we have a race problem.

    • Sean Banecz 26 March, 2014 at 01:55 Reply

      They aren’t Koreans. Their ancestors have been brought to Japan against their will and Japan must pay up.

  3. Peter 20 March, 2014 at 11:34 Reply

    Josh Burke: what? These “unfair special rights” don’t exist, period. The ‘special permanent residents’ are the descendants of Koreans abducted and brought to Japan as slave labour during WWII; they were born in Japan, have spent their whole lives in Japan, speak only Japanese, and pay taxes to the Japanese government, but are discriminated against, denied citizenship and voting rights, and barred from certain types of employment, only because of their ancestry. The idea that they benefit from favoritism is racist BS nonsense made up by Makoto Sakurai, the leader of “Citizens against special rights”, whose army of thugs have previously spent their time shouting abuse at a schoolgirl because her parents were Filipino.

    • Lee 21 March, 2014 at 00:40 Reply

      FYI Most of those Koreans who were brought to Japan during WWII went back to Korea after WWII ended. Korean Japanese today are descendants of Koreans who moved to Japan by their own will during Korean war.

  4. simonsaysjapan 20 March, 2014 at 16:50 Reply

    The medical mask being worn is a sign of misinformation and sheep mentality. The common cold is not an infection that will spread during the phase you feel unwell. That was prior to your mucas membrane etc becoming inflamed. Your body has already fought and destroyed the illness, but has continued on, fighting your body and causing your body to become inflamed.

    During this phase, the best thing to do is to get lots of fresh air to clear out your passageways and let your body know the infection has gone. However, this is when the Japanese prolong the agony by putting a mask on.

    It speaks volumes for a culture of guilt that exists there, and even more about the legions of doctors who fail to speak out against this nonsense.

    There is a reason it isn’t done elsewhere, but in Japan they even go as far as seeing it as a display of Japanese superiority, which brings us back to the original post.

    • Lee 22 March, 2014 at 15:50 Reply

      There are reasons why people wear masks other than to prevent cold from spreading. Its simply disgusting if someone right by your side coughs or sneeze without covering and wearing mask is very convinient rather than to cover with hands, especially in places like a crowded train. Also people wear masks designed to protect from Yellow Sand, PM2.5, or pollen allergy.

      • simonsaysjapan 23 March, 2014 at 01:17 Reply

        Masks worn for allergies are completely different in design and structure. They enclosed the whole lower jaw. As for these masks worn for the common cold, as I said, there is no longer any infection and all that the wearer is doing is the equivalent of sneezing into a handkerchief but then holding all the discharged phlegm and mucus in front of their face all day instead of putting it away or throwing away a tissue. There is a reason that nobody else does it, except the Japanese. It isn’t recommended by doctors, so why do the Japanese do it?

      • Sean Banecz 26 March, 2014 at 01:56 Reply

        It’s just primitive voodoo medicine which should have no place in a “modern” country. Don’t drink the yellow kool-aid.

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