Grown children surprised to find their fathers absorbed in internet rightwing sites


Going home can yield any number of surprises. Your parents have aged, your childhood room is a den, etc, etc, Spa! (Dec 11) tells of this going-home surprise:

It concerns a company employee we’ll call Mr Suzuki, visiting his 70-year-old father with his wife and four-year-old daughter. The surprise was sprung when the little girl innocently mentioned a nursery school friend of hers who is Korean. Her grandfather saw red. He exploded, “There are Japanese children on nursery school waiting lists and yet Koreans kids can get in easily! The way things are going Koreans will take over the country!”

His son gaped at him open-mouthed. Was this his father? He’d been a sales executive, he’d worked abroad; it hardly seemed like him to be fulminating against foreigners.

A journalist we’ll call Mr Tanaka had a similar astonishment in store for him when he went home recently. He and his father were watching TV when suddenly, out it came: “Koreans and Chinese don’t have the same brains as Japanese – that’s why they don’t win Nobel prizes!”

His son remonstrated, “Listen, father, I have Korean friends and colleagues, please don’t talk like that!” It was oil on the flames.  “If you’re a journalist, write the truth about  the Nanking Massacre and the comfort women!” the old man thundered, referring to two World War II issues that neo-nationalists say were exaggerated or fabricated by foreigners and/ or traitorous Japanese bent on making Japan look bad.

Tanaka, like Suzuki, saw nothing in this ranting old man of the father he thought he knew. The elder Tanaka had been a small-town bank branch manager, a quiet and distinguished man. What had happened to him?

The neo-nationalist presence known as the net uyoku (net ultra-rightists) is a fairly well-known phenomenon. Their internet sites specialize in hate speech and the whitewashing of what most Japanese and most of the rest of the world call Japanese war crimes. Those who don’t share their views deplore them or ignore them. But Spa! focuses on a peculiarity not much  noted: the growing appeal these hate sites seem to have for the elderly – including people who, like the elder Suzuki and Tanaka, had never been of that persuasion before.

“You don’t believe that Korean permanent residents of Japan have special privileges?” the elder Suzuki challenged his son. “Here – look!” And pulling out his smartphone, he produced his “evidence” – numerous blogs and posts “proving” his point.

One can, of course, “prove” anything that way. Looking around the house, the younger Suzuki found books – many. So his father, never much of a reader in the past, had taken to literature to fill his post-retirement leisure. Highly provocative literature at that – “hate literature.”

“It would embarrass him to buy that stuff at a neighborhood book store,” the younger Suzuki tells Spa!. “But he orders it via smartphone, the way a teenager might order pornography.”

Tanaka says much the same of his father, adding, “He searches for hate books on his smartphone, which leads him to (uyoku) sites” – which push other hate books, and the vicious circle closes, revolving endlessly.

Journalist Koichi Yasuda, who has written extensively about the net uyoku, makes an interesting point about Japanese neo-nationalists. “In the past,” he tells Spa!, “prejudice meant looking down on people of other races or nationalities. Now it means looking up to them” – at least in the sense of fearing that they’re clever enough to take over and subvert Japan.

© Japan Today

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I’m not sure what to make of this article. It only talks about two old men who have found a retirement hobby in reading scurrilous right-wing garbage on the Internet and ordering hate books online. Whether this is a major trend or not is not stated in the article. I’m sure old man do other things.

But one thing is certain. The  net uyoku are a presence.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As Kabuki mentions, a few examples does not a trend make. You can just as easily find some older Japanese men posting their birding pictures online, which I regularly read.

That said, I can add an anecdote of my own about elderly men with zany views. Shortly before my wife's aunt died we visited her home and her husband turned on the computer. A guy in his early 80s, I could only guess what wonders he was about to reveal. And I was not disappointed. This guy, all smiles and as polite as can be, a retired university professor no less, proceeded to show me sites claiming that all the US leaders are in fact Jews. Obama, the Bushes, the Clintons, all of them. I mean these sites made Alex Jones look classy.

Just totally unhinged. I chalked it up to dementia but I've also never visited the doddering widower again.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If it is a trend--and not anecdotes--maybe it's partly due to fears of being out of control as one ages? Losing physical abilities, status in society etc. could make people look for something to feel in control of. Hate and anger are easier, simpler feelings to deal with than fear, sadness, loneliness, or shame. Just a hunch, but I could back it up with my own anecdotes from volunteering at a care home back in the States as well.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There are these old men, I don’t know how many, who have adopted the  net uyoku for whatever reason. If you look around you may find other old men who has become hooked on weird religions or whatever. Or some might have gone left. It would be interesting to do an extensive survey on old retired men and women.

Meanwhile, the disturbing fact is that right wing extremism is a few steps from the passive prejudices of every day citizens. Recall the anti-Korean demonstrations, replete with loudspeakers, in Okubo, Tokyo. These were ordinary folks. Think of all the prominent people who deny the Nanjing Massacre ever happened? This is just for starters.

That the uyoku have taken to the Internet should surprise no one. But there is something else to consider. The black vans blaring martial music no longer inspire fear and awe. You see them less. The vans are getting old and rusty and their owners are also getting old and rusty. Their messages are antique. They don’t like Japan’s current Emperor because he is democratic and fair minded. The Internet allows a few old men, and probably a few young people, a bigger voice than their numbers indicate. But they are still dangerous because the tap they bigotry that is alway hovering about.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Just a few bitter old men. Time has passed them by and they are hoping to hang on to the old "glory." Reminds me of some of the people who follow the current U.S. president.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Wow. What a pretty interesting read. But it’s not surprising that there are so many Japanese geezers who think this way.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

My story is in the opposite direction. It pains me to see a beloved offspring addicted to right wing propaganda sites.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Ethnocentric nationalist fervor is increasing worldwide, from the US to Japan to Hungary to China to Poland to the Phillippines. It does not bode well for the future.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I know of an Asian immigrant in the US who settled well in white suburbia, USA. This person is now so pro-Trump I couldn't believe how living in the USA can change a previously non-political person so much. During the presidential election campaign, my every worrying comment about Trump was met with 'Oh, crooked Hillary is bad' and so on. Every discussion about Trump was met with 'crooked Hillary' rebuttal! In my mind, this person of yellow skin must be thinking 'I'm an associate white USA citizen now, I must support Trump & the building of the border wall and Mexico is paying for it'. Worrying times for all of us.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The modern definition of "right wing" is anyone who doesn't agree with Globalism, Social Justice Warriors, Socialism or Cultural Marxism. There's nothing wrong with being patriotic to the country you were born or raised in, its not just old people trying to relive "the glory days", its the low to middle class seeing their jobs getting exported to low wage countries and or heavily devalued currency countries. Its the swarming in of migrants from second and third world countries who then under cut the wages and conditions the local employees have taken years to achieve.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

The modern definition of "right wing" is anyone who doesn't agree with Globalism, Social Justice Warriors, Socialism or Cultural Marxism.

You may get that impression if you only listen to the extreme left. But I assure you, that there are far more people on the left that don't think that way than do.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The modern definition of "right wing" is anyone who doesn't agree with Globalism, Social Justice Warriors, Socialism or Cultural Marxism.

What does that have to do with Japanese uyoku or demonstrating in Korean communities or in front of their schools, using loudspeakers to denounce them as “criminals” or “cockroaches” and calling for them to be killed.

Good god, even right-wing Toru Hashimoto called Zaitokukai racists. Or what about the leader of Japan First, Hiroyuki Seto, who like you sees "hate speech laws and local government guidelines as designed by those with a "left-wing ideology." Seto, in the event you don't know is literally a fan of Adolf Hitler.

I suspect that some labelled right-wing are just that, closet fascists just gagging for an opportunity to wield power over the disenfranchised.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Why the surprise? Even today they still have schools imbibing children with this nonsense. The Ojiisan generation, especially was weaned from it , more so that, that rhetoric was and has been the staple, glue and convergent point , which by large kept Japanese society cohesive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

…..I thought it was common knowledge there are lots of right wing nut jobs in Japan, they have been here for ages!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I do enjoy the fakery of implying right wing means intolerant. That's a left wing insanity. As is the left wing pinning anything not them as right wing.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Who defines what is "right wing"? I see both sides becoming less and less tolerant for each other.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just a thought but to what extent did their education and socialisation earlier in life teach them critical thinking?

The way to deal with extreamism of any flavour is not to deplore and ignore them but to challenge them and demonstrate how vacuous, inaccurate, morally and intellectually bankrupt their ideology is.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Teach critical thinking, at least the concepts, otherwise you get silly old geezers believing in fairytales. It starts around 40 once the resentment from lack of personal achievement and fulfillment kicks in. Throw in a lack of interpersonal skills, then sit behind a screen and bingo. Gaps will be filled!

Know a few good people that have been mentally entrapped into a kind of blind and confused rage about bogey men that don’t exist. Classic projections of individual frustrations unto the world. It’s not just a Japanese problem either, it’s a worldwide internet problem.

You can’t (nor shouldn’t ) control speech , so learning to sift through the endless streams of questionable facts with a trained mind is absolute key! There should be a course with a test, that’d work here!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think it is productive to discuss how critical thinking can be taught, or at least encouraged. From an early age, having parents who are inquisitive, questioning, and observant seems like it would help. At university, there were courses in such things as the Socratic method. In the math department, there was an elective course in number theory and basic mathematics. As one immerses oneself in the sciences it seems almost inevitable that one picks up the habit of using the scientific method, to think critically. As an example of that assertion I would bring up a recent Pew research poll, which found that in the USA most scientists and engineers identify as Democrats, and only 6% self-indentify as Republicans. Given the Republican inclination to reject logic and facts in their policies, it does not surprise that the overwhelming majority of individuals who are actually trained in critical thinking so obviously reject the Republican political party.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is not a phenomenon limited to Japan. I know several people in America with retired parents who’ve fallen I to the faux “news” orbit and now spout off embarrassingly about globalists (aka Jews), “others” (non-whites) and the conspiracy against Gods anointed one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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