Date: Thu, 2 May 1996 07:55:59 -0500
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>>> Item number 7247, dated 96/04/28 01:24:46 -- ALL
Date: Sun, 28 Apr 1996 01:24:46 GMT
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From: Arm The Spirit <>
Subject: The Extreme Right In Japan

The Emperor's Last Stand—Fascism In Japan

By Andreas Hippin, translated from Junge Welt, 6/7 April 1996

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.

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 far-right.

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 difficult.

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 govern.

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.