Japan’s hate rallies cannot be tolerated

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Japan’s hate rallies cannot be tolerated


A human rights report published by the U.S. Department of State last week defined the latest anti-Korean rallies in Japan as an infringement of human rights. The rallies are becoming more intense and frequent. According to research from last year, the hate speech rallies grew tenfold in the last three years. The slogans have evolved from “Return the Takeshima Island” to the clearly xenophobic “Koreans are pests, let’s exterminate!” They also boycott Korean products. However, Japanese authorities look the other way and define them as “lawful.”

A more surprising response came when the British Foreign Ministry’s travel guide to Japan warned that nationalists in Japan are sometimes hostile to foreigners and that visitors should leave the scene of rallies. A Japanese Foreign Ministry official told the Tokyo Shimbun that the rallies were interpreted as antagonism against all foreigners, not just Koreans.

That sounded like the xenophobic hate rallies against Korean residents in Japan could be tolerated. The response shows how Japan falls way below the global standard of considering xenophobic treatment to be related to hate crime. I am wondering why the Korean government is not protesting.

Naturally, we are reminded of a lesson from history - the hatred against Jews by Nazi Germany. The Nazi Party seized power in 1933 and started an expansive boycott against Jewish merchants, doctors and lawyers on April 1 of that year.

Six days later, the assembly passed a discriminatory law that banned Jews from being appointed to public positions. Hateful slogans to drive out the Jews and blame them for taking German property and jobs were shouted. The houses that the Jews were driven out of were marked “Judenfrei,” or “free of Jews.” We need to keep in mind that the worst tragedy in human history began with hatred and exclusion, and then turned violent and became the Holocaust.

Of course, some argue that Japan is a civilized state. However, Germany was a country of Kant, Goethe and Beethoven at the time. Recently, copies of Anne Frank’s diary were found to be vandalized in libraries in Japan. It may be evidence that the extremists who encourage hatred and antagonism against foreigners identify themselves with the Nazis. Japan’s society should denounce hate crimes and catch the offenders to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but the country remains surprisingly quiet.

Extremists exist in any society. However, the fact that anti-Korean rallies and incidents are not addressed properly shows that the integrity of Japan’s society has been undermined. Thankfully, there are activities that oppose the anti-Korean rallies, and we need to count on Japan’s rationality.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 4, Page 31

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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