Japanese Xenophobia and the Internet: What Enabled the Hate Speech to Shift from On-line to Off-line? (日本型排外主義とネット:ヘイトスピーチのオンラインからオフラインへの移行を探る)

在日韓国人をはじめとした日本国外にルーツを持つ人々を標的にした街中でのデモが活発化したことで、近年問題視されるようになったヘイトスピーチに代表される排外主義。しかし、実際はインターネットが普及し始めた90年代後半からネット上のサイバースペース(オンライン)では排外主義的差別発言は存在し、多くは規制されずに放置されてきたがために、”熟成”されてきた。それが今回、デモという形で路上(オフライン)に姿を現したのである。本ブログではヘイトスピーチのオンラインからオフラインへの移行を可能にした要素を二つのウェブサイト(「ニコニコ動画」「保守速報」)の特徴や機能の分析を通じて探る。さらに、日本の排外主義の起源についても考察する。欧米では増加する移民に対する人々の恐怖や奴隷制度という負の歴史に大きく影響された人種差別に基づく排外主義が一般的であるのに対し、日本の排外主義はこれらのいずれでも説明がつかない。本ブログでは大日本帝国の植民地支配時代から続く日本型オリエンタリズム(日本のアジア蔑視)に基づく「東アジア地政学」という視点から日本型排外主義についても論じる。

CONTENTS

Introduction
1. What is happening?
1-1. Hate speech demonstration and Zaitokukai

2. Cyberspace Community
2-1. Copy & paste and the creation of the fiction
2-2. It’s comfortable
2-3. It’s even more comfortable in Japan
2-4. Multimedia and Zaitokukai

3. Legacy of Colonialism
3-1. Discursive Opportunity Structure
 3-2. Critical Race Theory

4. Data
4-1.  Niconicodouga (Smiley Video)
4-2.  Hosyusokuhou (Conservative News Flash)

5. Analysis
5-1. Navigation for justification (emotion more than logic)
5-2. Comfortable to say whatever
5-3. Rooted in society and colonial legacy
5-4. Attractive interactive function
Conclusion
Works Cited

Introduction   

The recent xenophobic demonstrations filled with extreme and aggressive words on the street here and there in Japan have surprised the world. Discrimination and hostility are toward non Japanese, both nationally and ethnically; especially towards permanent ethnic Korean residents (Zainichi). It is the Internet that has nurtured and developed the traditional discrimination and hostility, which were always present but had been invisible,  into an extreme and overt form and encouraged the people to display them off-line. The relationship between the Internet and Japanese xenophobia is “reinforcing mechanisms” (Daniels, 2009, p. 189) which has also been observed in the relationship between the Internet and white supremacy in the United States. Discrimination against resident Koreans is nothing new. However, it it had been embedded in the society, both institutionally and culturally that for the last few decades, it had long been invisible or not publicly problematized.  

Unlike the US and other European countries, the uniqueness of the current Japanese xenophobic movement is that there was no specific organization that recruited people to engage in xenophobic activities prior to the emergence of the Internet. Therefore the cyberspace was the very first place where people constructed the sense of belonging to the community together with its language; ideology; and the style of the performance (Higuchi, 2014). The article will also discuss that xenophobic hate speech in Japan is without a doubt racist, it is not solely based on racism or fear towards the increased immigrant population, which are often the case in the US and European countries; instead, however, in Japan, xenophobia is rather based on a geopolitical structure of East Asia (Higuchi, 2014).

This article tries to draw out the causes and factors that enabled to export the xenophobic performance from on-line to off-line space by analyzing the comments on two websites and the functions of those websites. Both websites are known as the home  ground  for Netto-Uyoku. This word translated literally means right wing people on the Internet. They are also the active members of the off-line xenophobic demonstrations. The analysis will first draw out the functions of the Internet which navigate the users to justify the fiction of “privilege” that resident Koreans possess. Second, it will show that the cyberspace is a comfortable space for people willing to express their ideas but had long been regarded as not acceptable in the off-line world. Third, this article will show the recent extreme hate attitudes toward resident Koreans are the legacy of Japanese colonialism. Lastly, the problematic social environment of Japan which lack the interaction between the people and the so called “authorities” and also the discussion opportunities for the people in everyday life will be addressed.

The background context that lays behind and functions on the Internet and the users will first be discussed for the analysis by reviewing previous literature. There has been little analysis made about the cause and effect of the recent Japanese hate speech and its relationship to the Internet. However, not much has focused on any specific websites. Thus, this article ultimately aims to help people to understand Japan’s current xenophobia logically and critically, and not as a surprising phenomenon that suddenly popped up in our culture from a mysterious cyberspace. *1

1. What is Happening?

1-1. Hate speech demonstration and Zaitokukai

“Resident Koreans are illegal immigrants and criminals,” “shameful ethnic is not allowed to breath,” “throw out the cockroach Chonco (derogatory term for Korean) from Japan.” These are some of the words announced in the demonstration at the Korea town in Osaka, Japan on February 24, 2013 (Morooka, 2013, p. 3). Among the total of around 100 people in the demonstration, a junior high school girl who claimed through the loudspeaker that she “hates Koreans” and called for a “massacre” of resident Koreans was shocking enough to be covered in many oversea media. Hate speech demonstration on the street started to appear from 2009 and became increasingly frequent since 2012 thoughout Japan (Morooka, 2013, Maeda, 2013).  According to The International Network To Overcome Hate Speech and Racism (Norikoenet), there were at least 360 racist related demonstrations in 2013 within Japan. On August 2014, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination made a recommendation to Japan to regulate hate speech by law. *1. 

The graph shows the number of racist demonstrations in Japan that were hoed in 2013. The vertical axis indicates the number of demonstrations, and the horizon axis indicates the area where the demonstrations were held. The third from the left is Kanto area, which includes Tokyo, where the number is significantly high. Retrieved from http://www.norikoenet.org/fact.html

The graph shows the number of racist demonstrations in Japan that were hoed in 2013. The vertical axis indicates the number of demonstrations, and the horizon axis indicates the area where the demonstrations were held. The third from the left is Kanto area, which includes Tokyo, where the number is significantly high.
Retrieved from http://www.norikoenet.org/fact.html

Hate speech demonstration at Shinokubo, a Korea town in Tokyo. On the placard says "Kill both good and bad Koreans."

Hate speech demonstration at Shinokubo, a Korea town in Tokyo. On the placard says “Kill both good and bad Koreans.” Retrieved from http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/warabidani3/18286542.html 

The major organization that organizes these demonstrations is Zaitokukai (abbreviated in Japanese means: “Citizens Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan”). According to Morooka (2013), Zaitokukai was established in January 20, 2007 and its website states that currently (November 26, 2014) there are 15, 251 members, within which more than 80% of them are male. However, given that there is no membership fee, it is difficult to exactly determine how many of them are active members. There are reportedly 38 branches around the country of Japan and demonstrations are held throughout.

Makoto Sakurai is the founder of Zaitokukai who was the organization’s president until November 2014, when he passed his position onto the vice president Yasuhiro Yagi. According to Noma (2013), a founder of the counter protester group against the recent hate speech, Sakurai had been an active and well known blogger among the anti-Korea/China community online. He started broadcasting the Internet radio show since 2005 and also was a frequent guest speaker for the conservative satellite pay television program in the same year as a representative of Netto-Uyoku.

Makoto sakurai, a former president of Zaitokukai, a major organization performing hate speech. Retrieved from http://deliciousicecoffee.blog28.fc2.com/blog-date-20090601.html

Makoto sakurai, a former president of Zaitokukai, a major organization performing hate speech. Retrieved from http://deliciousicecoffee.blog28.fc2.com/blog-date-20090601.html

2. Cyberspace Community

2-1. Copy & paste and the creation of the fiction

Zaitokukai and Netto-Uyoku’s main argument is that resident Koreans have “privilege,” such as receiving special permanent resident status; receiving welfare benefits; and having reductions and exemptions on various taxes. These “privilege” become the valid reason for Zaitokukai and Netto-Uyoku to “criticize” resident Koreans. However, that their arguments are not supported by valid data, are proved by many journalists and scholars. Noma (2013) strongly argues in his book entitled “Fictionality of the resident Korean’s ‘privilege’ ; Hate speech created in the Internet space” that the list of “privilege” have been widely spread throughout the Internet space by repeated “copy and paste” and eventually became the “truth” there (p. 5). Nonfiction writer Yasuda analyzes that the feeling which motivates the Zaitokukai members and other Netto-Uyoku to believe the “privilege” as the legitimate criticism is the “sense of victim hood.” “Sense of victim hood” steams from the idea that Japanese citizens were “deprived” from their right to pursue life and employment opportunities as citizens because of the “privilege” resident Koreans are given (Tsuda et al 2013, p. 149). This psychology of deprivation and victim hood could also be phrased as “sense of insecurity” (Ito, 2014, p. 441). This creation of fiction and victim hood is equivalent to the white supremacists’ feeling of superiority and victim hood against people of color (Daniels, 2009, p. 189).  

After the decades of public discriminations toward resident Koreans, such as denial of job, marriages, or housing contracts, and protests against them, the discrimination became publicly unacceptable by the 1990s (Noma, 2013, p. 58) However, the newly born Netto-Uyoku do not seem to hesitate to speak against the social morality. Alike Daniels (2009) description of the discourse of white supremacy on-line, “Issues that have been politically hard won, issues such as civil rights” (p. 189) have been distored in Japan too. What makes people believe these fictions and ignore any kind of political correctness and engage in hate speech both in Japan and the United States?

2-2. It’s comfortable

As Daniels (2013) states by referring to other scholars, such as Ignacio (2005), “the Internet is a site for identity construction” (p. 699). It is because the network of the Internet enables people with shared interests all around the places to gather (Wilson & Peterson, 2002, p. 449). Further, members of the online groups constitute a speech community that share best practices, beliefs, and norms in order to communicate to each others (Wilson & Peterson, 2002, p. 449). In fact, the word and concept of resident Koreans’, “privilege” was first created and circulated within the Internet space. Since the Internet is a place where people with shared interest meet up, one feels comfortable to express one’s opinion (Banks, 2006, p. 82).

This comfortableness is supported not only by fostering a sense of belonging, but it also does this by the characteristics of the Internet technology which enable the user to navigate the on-line space and easily obtain information that “fits oneself” (Higuchi, 2014, p. 130). This is done, by connecting irrelevant topics as if they are the cause and effect in order to justify what the provider want the viewers to believe as the truth. Higuchi (2014) describes this manipulative function of the Internet by introducing the anti-Korean discourse that emerged on-line when KoreanTeam’s rough play became popular during the FIFA World Cup 2002 Japan/Korea. Many people at that time who searched this topic on-line eventually encountered sources that claim that there are many “privilege” the resident Koreans possess. Higuchi states, “although [Korean team’s rough play in the World Cup] could be a reason to become “anti-Korea (n)” this would not likely lead people to embrace the ‘privilige’ ideology” (2014, p. 129), because rough play is neither a cause nor a result of “privilege.” Furthermore, media activist Tsuda states that SNS, such as Twitter can only display the tweets of people who the user “sympathies.” Therefore it enables the user to live in an illusion that ones opinion is supported by the majority of the society, encourages them to express their opinion freely; and thus criticizes the mass media that does not cover what they believe to be the view of the majority: which is their “truth” (Tsuda et al. 2013, p. 21, p. 22).

As discussed above, the sense of belonging and the function of the Internet makes people feel comfortable and encourages them to express their ideas, which generally were regarded as “inappropriate” in the off-line world. This sense of belonging and feeling of comfortableness can be observed in the speech which members of Zaitokukai use on the street. Yasuda, who interviewed the members and reported many of their demonstrations states that “the exact words written on the Internet comes to their tongue. There was no difference between virtual and real” (Tsuda et al. 2013, p. 149). In Yasuda’s word, what people who are engaging in the xenophobic hate speech both on-line and off-line experience is “the feeling of pleasure to break the taboo by beating up the common sense” (Tsuda et al. 2013, p. 150). This pleasure increases as one’s comment receives “Like” or retweeted (Tsuda et al. 2013, p. 23).

2-3. It’s even more comfortable in Japan

The Internet could be described as a third space for interaction, as Daniels (2013) describes by referring to Brock (2009) and Hughey (2008) that it is  “similar to the way Black barber shops and beauty salons allowed private spaces for identity discourses between Black men and women” (p. 699). On-line communities are also described by Rhinegold (1993) as “replacing public spaces such as pubs and cafes as loci of public social interaction “ (as cited in Wilson & Peterson, 2002, p. 456). However, for Japanese Netto-Uyoku, spaces similar to their current on-line spaces did not exist in the off-line world prior to the emergence of the Internet. This is clear from Yasuda’s interview with the members of Zaitokukai, in which the interviewees claimed that “I was feeling lonely for not being able to share my anger [toward politics]” and “[I ] gave up discussion about politics at school and at work”; or that “I don’t talk [about politics] at school because I know school is not a place for that” (Yasuda, 2014).

Therefore, as Yasuda (2014) analyzes, the Internet was a completely new space where people could express and share their thoughts on politics. In fact, Zaitokukai claims that their ideology is different from that of the traditional right wing activists. As Higuhi (2014) also points out from his sociological analysis that in the case of Japanese xenophobic movement, there is no basis of subcultural group, such as hooligan or skinhead(p. 139). For the Netto-Uyoku, the Internet is the first place where they can be “who [one] is and position [oneself] as someone with something valuable to say on issues in which [one] has a stake (Banks, 2006, p. 82)”; thus creating a very comfortable and encouraging environment.

Another characteristic of the Japanese social environment is the lack of interaction and dialogue between the people and the so called “authorities;” such as the mass media. As mentioned before, Netto-Uyoku are most of the time anti-mass media, not only due to their perception that “he opinion of the majority is not covered,” but also due to the lack of interaction and dialogue between the mass media and the people. This sentiment is clearly expressed in the co-authored book by newspaper journalists who are also active on-line bloggers. They claim that when they first started to post articles on their blog around 2003, they received many comments that expressed distrust and complaints toward mass media.

In addition, when a local newspaper company opened up the comment space on their website for their readers in the same year, they were very welcomed since it was the very first newspaper company in Japan to show their interest in interacting with their readers (Yukawa, Takada & Fujishiro, 2005). Thus, people’s accumulated frustration of not being able to say what they want as the “majority” of the society stimulated Netto-Uyoku to criticize and disagree; regardless of the contents or the quality of the information provided by the mass media (Tsuda et al. 2013, p. 13).  

2-4. Multimedia and Zaitokukai

Zaitokukai is known for its effective use of the Internet and multimedia technologies. Not only do they announc the details of the demonstrations through SNS and their website, but also record all the activities in order to broadcast live on-line. Therefore, although the number of members who join the demonstrations each times is not that big, their aggressive speech performance and extreme signs on the placards are spread across the country (Maeda, 2013, Yasuda, 2012). According to Yasuda (2012), the majority of the people who joined the group as a member first encountered the demonstrations on-line. In fact, one video clip often gets millions of viewers worldwide.

Zaotokukai’s effective multi- and traditional- media use was proven on October 20, 2014 when the then president Sakurai had a meeting with Osaka City Mayor Toru Hashimoto who claimed Sakurai not to hold any hate speech demonstration in Osaka city. The meeting ended in 10 minutes as Hashimoto and Sakurai’s conversation became merely a quarrel. Approximately 100 media reporters covered the meeting, which was special for Zaitokukai as traditional media had often ignored their activities, dismissing them as not worth covering. On November 20, Sakurai tweeted from his Twitter account that “the impact of the advertising by [the meeting with] Mayor Hashimoto is inestimable” since the searching time on Google with the keyword “Sakurai Makoto”(桜井誠) and “Zaitokuka” (在特会) increased enormously [Twitter Post] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Doronpa01. That is, chances for the Internet users to encounter  Zaitokukai’s claims increased, whether they agree or disagree. In order to draw the whole picture of the current xenophobia both on-line and off-line, the following section will review the legacy of the Empire of Japan, which ruled Korea from the beginning of the 20th century until the end of World War II, which is the root cause of the xenophobic movement.

3. Legacy of Colonialism

3-1. Discursive Opportunity Structure

The theory of Discursive Opportunity Structure (DOS) emerged from the study of the social movement which is introduced by Higuchi (2014) in order to explain the recent xenophobic movement in Japan. Higuchi defines DOS by citing Ferre (2003) as a “institutionally anchored way[s] of thinking that provide[s] a gradient of relative political acceptability to specific packages of ideas” (p. 145). Higuchi points out that the deep rooted “disdain toward Asian countries,” in other words, Japanese orientalism prevailing in the society and in politics is the DOS that lies behind the xenophobia (p. 146). Zaitokukai was able to mobilize people based on this DOS of “disdain toward Asian countries” combined with the spread of the Internet (Higuchi, 2014, p. 146).

The recent xenophobic movement in Japan is lead by institutionalized anchored ways of thinking is made it clear from Higuchi’s explanation of hierarchy within the DOS. According to Higuchi, there is a affinity between the discourse of xenophobic movement and what the government and media have been claiming (p. 148). Thus, it could be said that the government and the media discourses are appropriated by traditional right wing, then by Manga Mook (work of literature combined with magazine and book), then by xenophobic websites, and finally by the activists. During this process of appropriation, the discourse could be manipulated, and also become less valid, content specific, and aggressive (Higuchi, 2014, p. 148).

The actual discourse appropriated one after another in 2000s was that “East Asian countries are the biggest enemy,” a discourse influenced by historical revisionism and other history related topics, such as the Korean comfort women (sexual slavery) dispute by the imperial Japan and Nan king massacre in 1937. The discourse held throughout different layers (media, right wing, Manga Mook, website, activist) is based in the DOS which is the “disdain toward Asian coutries” (Higuchi, 2014). In fact, as Morooka (2013) says, many Japanese politicians have repeatedly denied the historical facts during the era of Empira Japan and publicly stated discriminatory words toward Asian countries. To summarize, DOS shows that xenophobic activities, such as those of Zaitokukai’s are layered widely and deeply in Japanese society.

 3-2. Critical Race Theory

Arudou (2003) applies the Critical Race Theory (CRT)  that emerged from American legal academia to Japanese society. According to him,  “CRT sees racism as a study of power relations within a society, particularly in terms of how people are rendered into hierarchical categories of power, social dominance, and wealth acquisition” (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001, Crenshaw et al, 1995, cited in Arudou, 2013, p. 155). It is based on the premises, such as ‘race’ is a social construct, human categorization based on ‘race’ is hegemonic and embedded in the society leading to discriminatory actions, and ‘race’ influence the society’s law formation, enforcement, and amendment (Arudou, 2013, p. 156). By applying CRT to Japanese context, Arudou (2013) draws out the embedded racism within Japan’s nationality law, which is based on the idea that citizenship should be based on jus sanguinis, which means a person have to have one Japanese (by nationality) parent to be recognized as citizen of Japan (2013, p. 158). This becomes problematic because of Japan’s history as a colonizer of East Asian, including Korea.

Although the Empire of Japan provided certain citizenship privileges to the colonized people, they removed them following the lost of World War II. Thus, former colonized subjects, such as resident Koreans were suddenly forced to become ‘foreigners’ and lost their rights they previously possessed as a citizen (Arudou, 2013, p. 158). Furthermore, as Japan does not allow dual citizenship, it is not a simple decision for resident Koreans who often struggle with their identity to naturalize and obtain Japanese citizenship leading to the abandonment of the citizenship of their ancestor. In short, racism against resident Koreans was institutionalized within the power relationship of the former colonizer and the colonized. In fact, Shin (2010) addresses that categorizing Koreans as aliens in the post war Japan “fostered both formal and informal exclusion from socio-economic opportunities and public benefits” (p. 335).

As discussed above, the current xenophobic movement filled with hate speech is not solely urged by the sense of “deprivation” and “insecurity” that made people to rely upon the comfortableness of the popularized use of the Internet. It was lead by the legacy of the Empire of Japan and its historical and political relationship with Korea, and/or China. This is clear from the fact that hate speech on-line “greatly outflowed” triggered by the 2002 FIFA World Cup Japan/Korea, when Korean team’s rough play became a target of criticism, and eventually became “normal” to express hate speech on-line after the then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi visited North Korea and received an apology from the former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for the abduction of Japanese nationals (Noma, 2013, p. 54). Furthermore, in 2012 when the former president of Korea Lee Myung-bak landed on a Takeshima (Dokto in Korean), a disputed island between Japan and Korean for its territory, the hate speech that was already pervasive on the street became increasingly aggressive. In addition, it became easier to get Korea related information on-line around 2001 to 2002 due to the establishment of Japanese version website of Korea’s major newspaper which was another push factor for the wide distribution of anti-Korean discourse on-line (Higuchi, 2014, p. 159).

It is important to note however, that the xenophobia toward resident Koreans in Japan cannot simply be explained by racism, since it is often not easy to distinguish Korean and Japanese from the color of the skin or other physical features, which is one of the triggers that leads people to perform aversive racism (Davido & Gaertner, 1998); and also as a fear toward increasing immigrant population. As Higuchi (2014) states, the characteristic of Japanese current xenophobia is the representation of unsettled issue of Japanese colonialism and the political relationship with Korea/Korean influences steamming from the legacy of colonialism (p. 6). Higuchi calls the structure that lies behind the Japanese xenophobia as “geopolitical structure of East Asia.”

 4. Data

4-1.  Niconicodouga (Smily Video)

Niconicodouga (Nico-dou) is a video sharing website in Japan, managed by Niwango. Inc,. It is the major multimedia tool Zaitokukai uses to advertise its activities. A former news section manager of Niconicovideo who has a career in the national newspaper as a journalist, Taro Kamematsu emphasizes the interactive feature of the website. According to Kamematsu, the viewers of the Nicodou can make comments while it is being broadcasted live and those comments appear directly on the video clip screen flowing from the right to the left continuously. Thus, the creator of the video can modify their contents by considering the comments given to them real-time, which is different from the traditional mass media where readers cannot leave their feedbacks about the article published on the newspaper companies’ websites (Tsuda, 2013, p. 130, p, 131). As the newspaper article on Nihonkeizai-Shimbun analyzes, these accumulation of lively comments creates the feeling of “we all are viewing here together at the same time” and increases a sense of belonging among the viewers (Kanai & Hirashima, 2012). Since the Nico-dou started their online service in December 2006, registered users, including 1,600,000 pay members, have been more than 26,000,000, which is equal to one fifth of the population in Japan. The topic of the video uploaded on Nico-dou ranges from entertainment to politics and have been collaborating with TV broadcasting programs and the government (Kanai & Hirashima, 2012).

The analysis will focus on a video clip which shows the anti-resident Korean demonstration on March 31, 2013. It was taken by a person who participated the rally and shooting people on the street who showed protest to the demonstration. This clip came up as one of the most viewed clips by searching the key word “Zainichi” (permanent ethnic Korean residents) and “Shinokubo” (well known Korea town and place for the Zaitokukai’s demonstration site in Tokyo) both in Japanese.  Although four other clips came up that had more viewer than the one which will be analyzed, this clip was chosen as other clips were not recording the demonstration itself. 

Screen shot of the Niconicodouga. The clip of the anti-Korean demonstration displays comments directly on the screen. Comments include "Empire Japan has to be back," "Koreans are thief," and derogatory term for Koreans.

Screen shot of the Niconicodouga. The clip of the anti-Korean demonstration displays comments directly on the screen. Comments include “Revival of the Empire of Japan is needed;” “Koreans are thief;” and derogatory term for Koreans.

[Details]

Title: Iikagen ni shiro yo zai chon yarou ga? (Come on that’s enough, you shitty resident Koreans?)

Posted: April 3, 2014

Viewed: 24,958 times

Comment: 1761 comments

(Current data on December 9, 2014)

4-2.  Hosyusokuhou (Conservative News Flash)

It is a website that collects topics from the on-line discussion board “2 channel” (Channel 2), which is known as the biggest Internet forum in Japan opened in 1999 (Noma, 2013, p. 54). The topic chosen for the analysis is about an article from the national newspaper the Asahi-Shimbun, which answered to the reader’s question “Zaitokukai is claiming the ‘privilege’ of resident Koreans. Does that really exist?” The article is specifically explaining the “privilege” of resident Koreans’ special permanent resident status. This was chosen as a relevant source for analysis since it is directly covering the “privileges” issue which is the main statement of Zaitokukai and their reason to perform hate speech. In addition, it is important to note that the Asahi-Shimbun is the major target of criticism by the Netto-Uyoku that does not cover the “truth.” On September 2014, a resident Korean, freelance writer, Lee Shinne filed a lawsuit against Hosyusokuhou, Zaitokukai, and its former leader Makoto Sakurai, claiming they have disparaged her in public with racist insults. According to Asahi-Shimbun’s article, this is the first lawsuit case in Japan which an individual seeks compensation for being a  target of hate speech (August 19, 2014). 

Screen Shot of the Hosyusokuhou home page. Many of the forum topics and video clips posted here are related to Korea/Koreans, or aimed to criticize them.

Screen Shot of the Hosyusokuhou home page. Many of the forum topics and video clips posted here are related to Korea/Koreans, or aimed to criticize them. Retrieved from http://hosyusokuhou.jp/archives/41356968.html

[Details] 

Title: [Asahi-Shimbun] Zaitokukai no iu “Zainihi Tokken” aruno? —–>Houmusyo Nyukokukaanrikyoku “tokubetueiyuusikaku wa rekishitekina keii ga haikei ni aru. Tokken towa omotteimasen” ([Asahi-Newspaper] Does ‘privilege of resident Koreans exist as Zaitokukai claims? —–> Immigration Bureau of Japan answers “Special permanent resident status has a historical background. We don’t think it as a privilege.”)

Posted: November 18, 2014. 12:52pm

Original article of Asahi-Shimbun published on-line: November 18, 2014. 6:35am

Comments: 489 comments

(Current data on December 9, 2014)

Comments section of the Hosyusokuhou is simple and most of the users leave comments anonymously.

Comments section of the Hosyusokuhou is simple and most of the users leave comments anonymously. Screen shot retrieved from http://hosyusokuhou.jp/archives/41356968.html

5.  Analysis

Amongst the topics discussed in this article, four points could be hypothesized as the features of the websites that lead Netto-Uyoku to demonstrate their on-line hate speech discourse on the street. First, websites navigate the users to other information sources in order to justify the hate speech not logically, but emotionally. Second, on-line spaces for Netti-Uyoku are a comfortable space for them to form a community that is comfortable and encouraging to perform hate speech. Third, xenophobic/hate speech discourse is rooted in the Japanese society which carries the legacy of colonialism. Fourth, the interactive function of the websites attracts people who were frustrated with the one way information path from the traditional media.

 5-1. Navigation for justification (emotion more than logic)

<Niconicodouga>

This page is tagged with 10 words, such as  “Zainichi Korean” (在日コリアン= resident Koreans), “Korea” (韓国) and “Shibaki Tai” (しばき隊= an anti-racist organization). Clicking these words will lead the user to search video clips that contain the same words as keyword and tagging word. 7 out of 10 words tagged to this clip also link the user to “Nico Nico Pedia” which serve as the website’s original on-line dictionary. Take for example, the tagged word “Arita Yoshifu” (有田芳生) This is the name of a member of House of Councillor who  is an active protester of Zaitokukai’s demonstrations and hate speech. Clicking his tagged name links the user to 887 different video clips which his name is tagged. It also shows 956 video clips that contains his name as a keyword. The website also introduces related tag words that are used together with “Arita Yoshifu,” such as “Zaitokukai”(在特会) “Shinokubo” (新大久保= a Korea town in Tokyo) or “Daikankenjidai” (大韓嫌時代= a Sakurai book focusing on hate towards Korean and resident Koreans). The Nico Nico Pedia on “Arita Yoshifu” lists some of his professional titles, and concludes a description of him as “a strange person who is doing very very unbelievably contradicting activities” without enough proof but with an agitative writing style. Majority of the related video clips shown on Arita’s Nico Nico Pedia page are making fun and criticizing Arita’s anti-hate speech activities.

At the bottom of the original video clip page of the hate speech demonstration held at Shinokubo, there are list of 18 related book publications which includes works on anti-hate speech. However, the chances for the users to encounter the anti-hate speech information is far less smaller than information that supports the “privilege” of the resident Koreans. In addition, editing the Nico Nico Pedia, tag words, keywords, and posting related publication on on-line bookstore could all be done by the users. Therefore, as it could be clearly observed, the website is likely to be filled with the discourse of the heavy users of the Internet, the Netto-Uyoku.

<Hosyusokuhou>

Comments made here usually have one or more sentences, however, users are discussing about the article out of context, or leaving comments that are illogical. For example, the anonymous  commenter 3 copied and pasted a part of a newspaper article, stating: “there is a historical background [therefore resident Korean status is not a demonstration of privilege]; and added his idea which stating “ [this means] it is [privilege based on historical background]. This shows the commenter’s disregard of the context. Commenter 97 who is also anonymous pasted a long list of “privilege,” most of which are without any named references; but they do list the name of a politician, a specific date, a data-like numbers, in order to make people believe that the list is legitimate. Even when there are references for the information, most of them lead the user to different pages on Hosyusokuhou, or for example, a website of a city council member who posted an article on his website writing about the “proof of the privileges” (Kotsubo, 2014).  This city council member requested the readers to share his article on-line, and shows his “appreciation” to be shared on Hosyusokuhou (Kotsubo, 2014). This city coucilor’s article, which includes documents he submitted to the diet member as a petition is used among the users of the Hosyusokuhou as proof of legitimacy to criticize the “privilege.”

Comments made on Hosyusokuhou are often out of context. This screen shot shows the "proof" of "privilege" resident Koreans possess. However, the list is only showing the amount of public subsidiary aid provided to ethnic school or to non Japanese student, and does not explain whether if is more than other Japanese school and student, or the reason they are receiving the aid. Screen shot retrieved from http://hosyusokuhou.jp/archives/41356968.html

Comments made on Hosyusokuhou are often out of context. This screen shot shows the “proof” of “privilege” resident Koreans possess. However, the list is only showing the amount of public subsidiary aid provided to ethnic schools or to non Japanese students, and does not explain whether if is more than other Japanese schools and students, or the reason they are receiving the aid. Screen shot retrieved from http://hosyusokuhou.jp/archives/41356968.html

 

5-2. Comfortable to say whatever

<Niconicodouga>

The clip shows comments that flow with different speed from right to left with different font size and color. They include negative statment against resident Koreans, such as “die;” “go back home;” “Chonko;” “why you live in Japan” “tax thief;” and “I support Zaitokukai.” Because the clip is filled with comments, it is difficult to focus the demonstration itself, but instead it leads people to follow the comments one after another. Each comment is very short and has one or two sentences, which often does not make any sense even grammatically. Most of the comments support the demonstration, and less than 20 comments could be read as an opposition towards the demonstration. Thus, the environment is creating a feeling that majority of the people agree with the demonstration that aims to deny and criticize the existence of resident Koreans in Japan. Also, even if the comment does not make any sense at all, there is no space to counter argue it and engage in constructive discussion, which further fuels individuals to leave comments without regard to logical consideration; and conversely, posting messages stemming primarily from emotion.

<Hosyusokuhou>

As the users know that Hosyusokuhou and 2 chnannel is the home base for Netto-Uyoku, they do not have to fear being criticized for their comments. Furthermore, the anonymity(e.g. no handle name or profile picture), which is one of the sales point of 2 channel, is another factor that encourage the user to make comments which are regarded as “inappropriate” in the Japanese society.

 5-3. Rooted in society and colonial legacy

<Niconicodouga>

“Inhabited in Japan after the war dani” is a comment made on Niconicovideo’s video clip that implies the commenter’s perception that resident Koreans illegally resided in Japan which uses a Japanese’ stereotypical sentence ending phrase of Korean language dani and implies the disdain toward resident Koreans as foreigner. This comment, and many other similar comments, ignore the historical facts. For example, such as many Koreans were forcefully brought to Japan as a labor force, and later deciding to stay in Japan having already established an ethnic network after the war, or they were deprived of their Japanese citizenship which they were once given. Among Netto-Uyoku, this type of discourse that criticizes the illegality of Korean’s residential status in Japan or justifies the sin of the incident during Japan’s colonialism is prevelant. An example will be the argument that the “comfort women” were not sex slaves but engaged in sex business with their own will. This kind of historical rivisionist discussion often coincides with the political landscape at the time.

<Hosyusokuhou>

The article is directly dealing with the topic related to Japan’s colonial history and inviting the users to ignore or deny the historical fact of the oppression of Korea and agitating them to treat the resident Koreans as “foreigners” who do not appreciate the ruling of Japan that enabled them to “develop” their country. These could be observed, for example, in the statement of commenter 351“did Japan do something that bad that it has to help Koreans [to live in Japan]?” or the commenter 401 “Koreans are foreigners.”

5-4. Attractive interactive function

<Niconicodouga>

The flowing comments overlap with specific scenes, people, or objects in the clip which the commenters aimed to mention and create a exciting feeling of engagement with in the demonstration as the comments become part of the video clip. This is a completely different experience for the users from watching news broadcasts on the television.

On Niconicodouga's video clip, the viewers leave comments almost every singe second. Starting from the left is the comment, the moment the comment is displayed on the screen, and the date the comment was made. More than 1700 comments continuously flow on the screen in 5 minutes video.

On Niconicodouga’s video clip, the viewers leave comments almost every singe second. Starting from the left is the comment, the moment the comment is displayed on the screen, and the date the comment was made. More than 1700 comments continuously flow on the screen in 5 minutes video. Screen shot retrieved from http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm20506304

Asahi-Shimbun, a liberal national newspaper is another object of criticism for Netto-Uyoku, or in English translation, the Internet right wing. Asahi-Shimbun is not only Netto-Uyoku’s “enemy” because of their political stance, but also because they are regarded as the symbol of “authority” that do not engage in dialogue with the readers. In fact, the word “Asahi (朝日/アサヒ)” is mentioned at least 56 times in total on the comment section. Anonymous commenter 73 and many other write “Since the Asahi-Shimbun is saying [privilege] does ‘not exist,’ that means it does [exist].” Commenter 25, another anonymous, addresses Asahi-Shimbun as “China/Korea maneuver institute.” Another anonymous commenter 126 claims “this article should have been written by Korean in Asahi-Shimbun” and commenter 191 says “great article as an anti-Japan, traitor, and extreme left wing Asahi.” Commenter 138 paste Asahi-Shimbun’s Twitter account URL and comments “Twitter users, express your thoughts to them!”

Although it cannot be known how many percentage of the Internet users viewing these websites are actually participating in the hate speech demonstration off-line, these platforms with specific characteristics were powerful push factors for many of them to become xenophobic activists (Higuchi, 2014, p. 96).

Conclusion

The Japanese cyber space, along with the historical, political, and social background of Japan enable the xenophobic speech together with activities toward resident Koreans to be performed not only on-line, but also off-line.  Focusing on two websites, this article showed specific functions and effects of the website that encouraged the users to appear on the street. Since the beginning of 2000, many Japanese enjoyed and consumed South Korean pop culture, which was named as Korean Wave Boom called, and discriminations against resident Koreans which had long been problematized in the society had became less frequent, or at least less visible. However, the gradual emergence of Netto-Uyoku on-line, which lead the forming of Zaitokukai and the current xenophobic discourse off-line is forcing people in Japan to face again with the root of the issue.

Zaitokukai and Netto-Uyoku’s target of attack has not only been resident Koreans, but also resident Chinese and other people with various ethnic and national roots living in Japan. At the same time, as the Japanese government, companies, and universities work to promote and welcome workers and students from overseas, it is a crucial time for the people, mass media, scholars and politicians to actively and collectively fight against the current xenophobic phenomenon (*2,3) both on-line and off-line. This must occure, in order to work toward a just Japanese society. This will not only require the society to combat hate speech; but also to educate people on digital literacies (Daniels, 2009); race and racism, which is barely taught in Japanese compulsory education; and the reformation of the immigration system that is based on the premise and belief that people with different ethnic roots are “forever foreigners” and “never purely Japanese.”

Notes

*1 Hate speech law regulation

On July 8, 2014, Osaka High Court upheld a lower court ruling that hate speech by Zaitokukai directed at Korean elementary school in Kyoto was unlawful and awarded compensation of 12 million yen in damages and banned similar rally activities within a 200 meter radius of the school. According to an newspaper article on Nikkei-Shimbun (July 8, 2014), it is the first High Court judgement on hate speech discrimination based on race and nationality. However, the current Japanese law only allows for the regulation of speech, such as slander, threat or discrimination when it is targeting specific individual or group. Therefore it is very difficult to regulate hate speech toward unspecified group of people, such as in the case of hate speech demonstrations at Korea Town which the targets are resident Koreans or sometimes foreigners in general (Morooka, 2013). Similar to the legal discussions in the US, there are delicate concerns for regulating hate speech, due to concerns about the constitutional right and freedom of expression.

*2 Anti-hate speech activities
Since 2013, there have been demonstrations and movement that directly counter Zaitokukai’s demonstrations on the street. These groups which carry out anti-racist actions have come together to form a platform entitled C.R.A.C. (Counter-Racist Action Collective), with the mission of fighting against racism through various activities (e.g. demonstrations, lobbying, art and musical performance). On September 2013, citizens, including scholars and lawyer established a group named Norikoenet (International Group To Overcome Hate Speech And Racism). This group has been supporting counter hate speech activities; initiating legal action; holding study groups; and also broadcasting anti racist programming online. Furthermore, on November 2, 2014, slightly, fewer than three thousands people marched in order to protest hate speech at an event titled “Tokyo No Hate Rally 2014,” organized by citizens group. 

Tokyo No Hate Rally 2014 was held by citizens for the second time.  Retrieved from http://blog.livedoor.jp/utsuda-bunko/archives/16033306.html

Tokyo No Hate Rally 2014 was held by citizens for the second time. Anti-hate speech movements are becoming more and more active.
Retrieved from http://blog.livedoor.jp/utsuda-bunko/archives/16033306.html

*3. Googling “privilege”

According to a quantitative sociologist Kim Myungsoo (2014), there has been an increased number of websites that claim the “privilege” is a mere fiction. Just after Zaitokukai was formed, citizens opened up a website titled Zainichi Korean FAQ (β)  for the purpose of arguing against the fictional anti-Korean discourse on-line. However, when searching the word “resident Koreans’ privilege” on Google in the Japanese language(在日特権), most of the websites displayed on the top tier search results are those that justify the fiction of “privilege”; and it is difficult to reach websites that counter argue against it (Noma, 2013, p. 5). Recently however, an on-line article by Kim Myungsoo, which describes the fictional discourse of special residential “privilege” afforded to Koreans and the colonial history behind it, is displayed on the second of the Google search result tier, which is after Wikipedia and before Zaitokukai’s website.  Mass media companies and scholars have long underestimated the impact of the Internet ;and unfortunately allowed much discourse to take place without fostering legitimate discussions. However, the current climate provides the users more possibilities to encounter various counter arguments on-line, including Kim’s article, Norikoenet, and C.R.A.C., is a positive phenomenon toward a just world society.

Works Cited

Arudou, Debito. (2013). “Embedded racism” in Japanese law: towards a Japanese critical race theory. Pacific Asia Inquiry 4 (1), 155-168.

Brock, Andre., Kvasny, Lynette. and Hales, Kayla. (2010). Cultural appropriations of technical capital: Black women, weblogs, and the digital divide. Information, Communitation & Society, 13:7, 1040-1059.

 Daniels, Jessie. (2009). Cyber racism: White supremacy online and the new attack on civil rights. Maryland, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Heito supiichi soshou, kousai mo baishou meirei zaitokukai no kouso haki [Hate speech lawsuit, Higher Court awards compensation and rejects Zaitokukai’s appeal]. Nihonkeizai Shimbun. Retrieved from http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASDG08013_Y4A700C1CC0000/

Higuchi, Naoto. (2014). Nihongata haigaisyugi: Zaitokukai, gaikokujin sanseiken, higashiajia chiseigaku. Nagoya: Nagoyadaigaku Syuppankai.

 Iikagen ni shiro yo zai chon yarou ga? [“Come on that’s enough, you shitty resident Koreans?”] (2013, April 3). Video clip retrieved from http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm20506304

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. (2014, September, 26). Concluding observations on the combined seventh to ninth periodic reports of Japan. Retrieved from file:///Users/nakanokei/Downloads/G1417436.pdf

Ito, Kenichiro. (2014). Anti-Korean sentiment and hate speech in the current Japan: a report from the street. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 20, 434-443.

Kanai, Maki., Hirashima, Ayako. (2012, April 23). Kyukakudaichu no mega kyokangata media “nikonikodouga” towa [“Nikonikodouga”, the rapid expanding mega sympathetic style media].  Nihonkeizai-Shimbun. Retrieved from http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASFK1703D_X10C12A4000000/ 

Kotusbo, Shinya. (2014, October 26). “Kakusan Kibou” ‘Zainithi tokken, gaikoujin tokken’ no koutekisyoumei- gaikokujin nomi nouzei ga yasuku seikatsu ga raku. (Soosu futei towa iwaremasen.) [ “Please share” Official proof of ‘resident Koreans’ privileges, Foreiners’ privileges’ – Only foreigners pay less taxes and have easy life. Retrieved from http://samurai20.jp/2014/10/g-huyou/

Maeda, Akira., Yasuda, Koichi., Tomimasu, Shiki., Kim, Dong-Hak., Furukawa, Masaaki., Okamoto, Masataka., …Morooka, Yasuko. (2013). Naze, ima heito supiichi nanoka-Sabetsu, bouryoku, kyouhaku, hakugai- [Why hate speech now?-Discrimination, violence, threat, persecution]. Tokyo: Sanichi Shobo.

 Morooka, Yasuko. (2013). Heito supiichi towa nanika [What is hate speech]. Tokyo: Iwanamishoten.

Noma, Yasumichi. (2013). “Zainichitokken” no Kyoko [Fictionality of the resident Korean’s “privileges” : Hate speech created in the Internet space]. Tokyo: Kawadeshoboshinsho.

Reishizumu no jittai [Realith of Racism]. (2014). [Racist activities within Japanese in 2013]. Retrieved from http://www.norikoenet.org/fact.html#recent_incidents

Shin, Hwaji. Colonial legacy of ethno-racial inequality in Japan (2010). Theory and Society, 39 (3-4). 327-342.

 Tsuda, Daisuke., Yasuda, Koichi,. Suzuki, Kunio., Nakagawa, Junichiro., Kayama, Rika., Shimomura, Kenichi., … Takano, Hajime. (2013). Abeseiken no Netto Senryaku [Abe administration’s Internet strategy]. Tokyo: Tsukurushuppan.

Wilson, M. Samuel., Peterson, C. Leighton. (2002). The anthropology of online communities. Review of Anthropology. 31, 449-467.

 Yausda, Koichi. (2012). Netto to aikoku: Zaitokukai no “yami” wo oikakete [Internet and patriotism: Chaising the “darkness” of the Zatiokukai]. [Kindle DX version]. retrieved from Amazon.com.

Yukawa, Tsuruaki., Takada, Masayuki., Fujishiro, Hiroyuki., (2005). Blogu jyaanarizumu- 300 mannin no media [Blog journalism- Media for 3 million people]. Miyagi: Norasha.

熱湯浴★@\(^o^)/ (2014, November 18). Does “privileges of resident Koreans’ exist as Zaitokukai claims? —-> Immigration Bureau of Japan “Special permanent resident status has a historical background. We don’t think it as a privileges.”). Message posted to http://hosyusokuhou.jp/archives/41356968.html

*This article was written by Kei Nakano as an auditor of the class “Exploring Race and Community in the Digital World” provided by African and African American Studies 108x, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

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