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Difference between rightists and nationalists

Posted April. 15, 2013 02:48,   


I was invited to my Japanese friend Shinichi Tanabe’s birthday party. It was my first attendance to a birthday party since I was a college student about 20 years ago. To me, he is like a guide who explains Japanese society and culture.

I went to a bar near Evisu station in Tokyo at 7 p.m. on April 2, and some 20 people were already there. Thirty minutes later, the number increased to 50. As he runs a consulting company, he has a broad network of people.

Tanabe said, “Time to introduce each other.” He made each individual stand up and introduced the individual and had a drink with each. Then, it was my turn. I was curious what he would say about me. He said, “He is a journalist from the Dong-A Ilbo in Korea. He introduces every corner of Japan to Korea. Well, we sometimes have different ideas but we are on the same wavelength.”

He and I have a big gap in thoughts. He is an avid supporter of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He never gives up in territorial issues. He thinks comfort women for Japanese soldiers during the colonial rule were professional prostitutes for money. We have a different perspective but speak the same language. When I claim that records show that the comfort women made quite good money. However, most of them were duped or sold off. It’s clearly illegal, he nods his head.

In sum, he is a right wing. While he wants Japanese military and economy to grow stronger, he admits the wrongs in history. Most Japanese are rightists like Tanabe. They are different from ultrarightists.

Ultrarightists such as the "organization of citizens who are against privileges for foreigners in Japan" do not admit their wrongdoings in the past. They are proud of Japan and firmly exclude foreigners, particularly Koreans and Chinese.

Against former President Lee Myung-bak`s visit to Dokdo, the disputed island between Korea and Japan, in August last year, Japanese ultrarightists held a protest in the Shin-Okubo Koreatown in Tokyo`s Shinjuku district, saying, “Koreans must leave Japan!” In a gathering in Osaka on March 24, they shouted, “You can rape Korean women,” and “Let’s kill Koreans!” They have gone overboard.

These are the characteristics of ultrarightists. Given the nature of the media, the civil organization’s extreme arguments are often introduced on newspapers. There are very few Japanese who belong to or support the organization, however. “They represent less than one percent in Japan,” said Koichi Yasuda, freelance journalist who had a relay interview of 10,000 members of the organization.

Is Prime Minister Abe a rightist or an ultrarightist? Many Koreans worry that he will reveal his claws if he wins in the Upper-House election in July. Many Japanese politicians, however, say, “As Abe is a pragmatic, the relationship between Japan and Korea will steadily improve but not so sure about China.” This implies that Abe is also a sound supporter of the right wing.

Well, Tanabe was heavily drunk in the middle of the birthday party. It is a natural consequence because he had 50 glasses of alcohol while his friends had one. All invitees showed trust in his openness. In an inter-country relationship, one side cannot simply yield to the other. The rule of the world is, however, that giving up a little could bring bigger benefits. Will Abe show a gesture of a sound rightist in the second half of this year?