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