For Japan’s small but extremely vocal number of ultra-nationalists, National Foundation Day (February 11) is like New Year, the brazen denial of war crimes and the birth of a male heir to the imperial throne all rolled into one. A day to angrily drive about, make as much noise as possible and dust off one’s flag emblazoned finery.
Not to mention of course the very justified celebration of Japan’s wonderfully varied culture and history. Yet it’s a goal apparently best achieved by venomously deriding the wonderfully varied culture and history of many other countries. Or failing that, the simple dislike of anyone who doesn’t happen to be Japanese.
So sad to see these folks going about their hateful ways without true opposition from the regular citizens. How many of them were out there this time? Were there any counter protesters?
There were an awful lot out and about this year. I’ve noticed a lot more protests away from keys dates such as National Foundation Day too. Economic stagnation, Abe back in power and island disputes are a worryingly heady mix.
I didn’t see any counter protestors (at least not on Monday), but at the same time the ultra-nationalists were reassuringly met with utter indifference, and often bemusement.
Thanks Lee, great post!
Hans ter Horst says
Great story-telling photography by including the barrier in the shot! Capa said to get closer but sometimes it pays to step back a few paces.
Really too bad these jerks are hijacking this day. My aunt was in a Japanese internment camp in Indonesia as a child; when Abe started to deny the existence of Comfort Women and called them hookers, I asked her about it and she told me that all girls from ages 12-14 onwards were taken from the camp. The big history rewrite that causes these jerks to believe the lies really makes me angry and sad, and fear, with Abe and like-minded people in power, that Japan could make the same mistakes again a 100 year later.
Thanks a lot! The idea of ‘getting closer, then closer still’ is always on my mind, but like you say, it does pay to step back sometimes. It certainly did in this case, as I’d never seen so many riot police out and about. And actively blocking the roads, rather than just having the equipment there just in case.
Yeah, they really do make their presence very much felt on February 11th. Not something that’s going to change either I suspect. Sadly just like all the deniers. It beggars belief that they are still intent on lying after all these years later, doesn’t it? It really angers me too, but I can only imagine what it makes people like your aunt feel. A terrible state of affairs to put it very mildly…
Hans ter Horst says
I would like to invite the nationalists to read up on Japanese history that the schools leave out because of government control: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21226068
It was an eye opener for my wife and her friends.
Thanks a lot for the link. A very interesting article. Such honesty is much needed.
An Expat says
Surprised one of them didn’t take a swing at you for photographing them
With all the police there I don’t think they’d have tried. Or at least that’s the approach I took. One I thankfully got away with too.
Very vocal minorities eh? Who’d have them?
Worrying that they deny their war crimes, Japan has a habit of not mentioning the war doesn’t it? I don’t think it helps in the long run if a country can’t admit it’s mistakes. This from the United Kingdom, where we happily acknowledge if we didn’t invade you at some point, we were probably selling you drugs, taking your people as slaves or leaving all our undesirables on your shores.
Yeah, for all Japan’s strong points, owning up to the past definitely isn’t one of them. But that’s very true, they aren’t alone in having a dark past, or being happily vague in regards the details…