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.

38 thoughts on “Pictures: Ultra-Nationalist Demonstrators Overwhelmed by Anti-Racist Counter-Protest

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

      • 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. 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.

    • 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. 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!

    • 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.

      • Josh, man, I’m not sure if you are the person to write and give opinion about these things, you better study, you better get properly documented before writing, you may be offending many people.

      • GuilleKnows, that is really very condescending. I’ll see your ‘Hard Rock Ueno Station’ T-shirt and raise you an MA in Advanced Japanese, and tell you that I agree with Josh. As does anyone who has studied Japan.

    • Simon, my friend, you are everywhere (JapanTimes, JapanToday) and you probably are one of those on the pictures. Don’t you feel ashamed? ‘Simon’, ‘Smith’ or whatever you call yourself, being Korean and writing rubbish about Japan… lets talk about you and how your country treats you if you even try to go there and more important, why don’t you openly talk about your situation in Japan, cause most of you guys are claiming stupid things from any point of view, even “rights” you won’t see anywhere. Once the world knows what you guys do, things will change and I personally would love to see your pathetic face after seeing how people realize what you do.

      • I’d love you to see my face too, mate. I’m a white Irishman sitting in Belfast you stupid numpty.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

      • Always good to have the statistical evidence from a late 1940s Korea specialist travel agent. Thank you Lee.

        On the other hand, didn’t lots of Japanese ‘move’ to Korea by the Emperor’s free will some years earlier?

        And, who cares why or how they got there, if they are being discriminated against by the Japanese, then shame on Japan.

        Excitedly awaiting your response.

      • Since you are “excitedly awaiting” my response,
        what exactly were you trying to say? Yes Japanese moved to Korea by emperor’s will during war, so what was your point?
        and yeah Zainichi Koreans (Korean Japanese) are discriminated by Japanese and I didn’t deny that. what was your point?

  4. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

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

      • It really is the land of the old wives’ tale. Which also manifests itself in how Japanese view other nationalities and races.

  5. simonsaysjapan,

    True, but many people wear normal mask for allergy too because specially designed ones are expensive and its so huge it kind of looks ridiculous when you wear it. and doctors do recommend masks not to the people who have cold but to the ones who havent caught any yet, in crowded places like trains, schools, etc. to prevent from catching virus.
    After all it just an act of being cautious, its not big deal. and the reasons Japanese does it, is maybe because of high population density. China import a lot of Japanese masks too.

    • Normal masks don’t work for allergies. End of story. Just another example of the pack mentality and Japan’s legions of ill-informed doctors. (I say that from experience). What you are really defending is in fact purely an example of peer pressure and everyday bullying that takes place in Japan. I think that is a big deal. What you are trying to say is that masks are only worn by people without the old, but we all know that that isn’t true. Rather than defending this nonsense, or attempting to brush my opinions off with “it’s no big deal”, why not listen and learn, and try to consider how many billions of yen cash-strapped people are wasting.

      • I think it’s much more likely that Japanese masks are ‘Made in China’ than the other way round. Due to bureaucracy, and inflated prices in Japan, it seems unlikely that ‘lots of’ Chinese people are buying expensive Japanese masks. Especially the allergy masks which you yourself argued are too expensive for most Japanese people to buy.

        I understand that when you are still in the Japanese reality bubble, Japan seems very important and that people there are keen to point out how magnificent Japanese industries are at taking on the world, but once you move away and relocate, nobody cares at all about Japan, and China and South Korea are in the ascendancy. I think this is demonstrated by the kind of idiotic protests that this post is originally about.

        I’m sure you are a nice chap, Lee. And I’m not just trying to be argumentative, but I spent 15 years in Japan, got an MA in Advanced Japanese and became something of an authority on the place. Now I am back in the real world, I may as well have a masters degree in Advanced Umbilical Chord Knitting with a Swahili Language School.

        No one cares. It’s all about the US, China and the EU. Then the other G8 nations, excluding Japan, and the BRIC nations as an also-ran, or may run. Institutionalised racism, xenophobia and incomprehensible policies against its neighbours have cost Japan its lead and its reputation.

        When this shooting war with China starts, it will be very interesting to see just how far the US wants anything to do with you. I imagine, for most Japanese, that will be a real bucket of ice water down the back.

      • We know that normal masks are not good for allergy. but people wear them because its better than nothing, and you can buy them cheap, like I said, no big deal to them to buy one and wear one. Two of my coworkers wear normal masks especially this time of year because they have allergy. and Im sure there are a lot of people like them. You know, as you said, people who wear masks are not only ones without cold, people wear masks for different reasons, some might be misinfromed like you said, some doesnt like to cough without cover, some wear for allergy, etc. but you are the one who dont want to admit people do different things for different reasons and want to draw a picture to judge people.
        Thanks for the advice, and my advice to you, next time you see someone with masks, maybe you should try to know the person and ask why s/he wears mask. You might be surprised its just a simple answer.

  6. simonsaysjapan,

    Im sorry but I couldnt help but laugh after reading your post at 5:05pm. You really are drawing a picture of what is Japanese. ”Real world”? like Japanese are in some kind of delusion. True some might be in such delusion but what you have said is just start of another racism.

  7. [Quiz show fail buzzer] No, mate. It isn’t better than nothing. That’s the whole point. But yeh, I like your idea. Let’s all hold hands and form a think-tank to conduct a non-academically based survey of your two workmates and any other ill-informed bumpkin we can find to see what a plethora of non-scientific reasons they can blurt out for wearing a snot-filled rag to their struggling respiratory system all day.

    Just one word of caution, I might have a struggle finding anyone to survey though as I live in Europe and we tend to avoid studying Voodoonomics and Advanced Withcraft whilst we are at school. Rather than spend 25 hours a day at school and juku, listening to a ‘sensei’ with a personality un-engaging enough even for teaching maths, and a love of Japan only surpassed by their hobby for sniffing schoolgirls’ panties from a vending machine, or dry-humping their neoprene ‘wife’ dressed like a nine year old, we quite bizarrely have a notion of teaching young people to think for themselves. This has somehow meant that I looked at Japanese people wearing masks, looked into the medical reality of it, and discovered it was, what we call in Ireland (GuilleKnows, did you see what I did there?) ‘utter bollix’.

    But no mate, you carry on wasting your money as fast as you are wasting your fragile bronchia. You don’t need my blessing to contribute to Japan’s much-envied position as ‘snot-rag supplier’ to China.

    Maybe you are GuilleKnows could form a misinformed trolls think-tank and do a survey to show the dangers to nationalism of eating Kimchi and being the subject of Irish fun-poking?

  8. That hair-trigger ‘Japan-bashing racism’ reaction really is still as sensitively calibrated as it was when I was living in the reality bubble. It’s amazing how fresh your pants smell when you’ve had your head up your arse.

      • Since the ruling-LDP government of Japan, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, refused to sign international accords against racism with the announcement that it wasn’t necessary as there is no discrimination in Japan, I would tend to agree with you.

        If you are lost for words, then I can recommend that you read, ‘Japan’s Minorities- The Illusion of Homogeneity’ by Michael Weiner. Then you’ll have plenty to say.

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