Tokyo gov. waves racist banner

Mainichi Shimbun, Tuesday 11 April 2000

In a viciously racist tirade that evoked images of a past massacre, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has urged the Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) to be on alert for rioting foreigners in the wake of a major natural disaster.

Ishihara's accusations Sunday that foreigners have been repeatedly been responsible for atrocious crimes, is of the same ilk as the groundless rumors of a Korean uprising that led Japanese to mercilessly slaughter thousands of Koreans in the wake of 1923's Great Kanto Earthquake.

Prejudiced comments by the governor gained a further sting due to his use of a derogatory slang word for foreigners, heightening speculation that Ishihara's big mouth is going to get him in hot water yet again.

In Tokyo, numerous visa-less sangokujin [a derogatory word once used to describe mostly Korean and Taiwanese foreigners] and foreigners are again and again responsible for committing atrocious crimes, Ishihara told the garrison at an event to mark the GSDF's 49th anniversary. It's possible we'll see them rioting in the wake of a major disaster.

Ishihara later added: Police power has its limits. I want you not only to offer emergency care after disasters, but also maintain public security.

Sangokujin is the slanderous term Japanese used to describe people from the countries Japan colonized or dominated until the end of World War II.

It applies largely to Chinese from Taiwan or Koreans who lived in Japan. It is now regarded as a racist term equitable with nigger in English and is rarely, if ever, used in common Japanese now.

During Sunday's speech, Ishihara—who has made little secret of his nationalistic, right-wing views—also heaped venom on the United States.

Japan has been dismantled since the end of the war, as best symbolized by that distorted Constitution imposed by the United States, and the result is that we are now exposed, the governor said. I hope [the GSDF] will show the people of Tokyo what the military means for a state.

Theoretically, the prime minister may call in the Self Defense Forces to assist in maintaining public security if police are incapable of restoring order. However, no leader has ever made such a request.

Commenting on Ishihara's remarks, Hiroshi Tanaka, professor emeritus of history of Japan-Asian relations at Hitotsubashi University, said the killing of Koreans after the quake shows the viciousness of prejudice. (Compiled from Mainichi and wire reports)