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What 'uyoku dantai' and Japanese alt-right groups want

25 Comments
By Luke Mahoney, grape Japan
Photo: Yuuya | © PIXTA

Recently, although I can’t remember why, I was researching the famous Japanese author Yukio Mishima. Essentially isolated from the outside world as a child, the samurai-descendant was an incredibly prolific writer as an adult. He penned some 40 novels and numerous plays, essays, short stories, and even a musical.

Nevertheless, Mishima had a nationalist streak. He tried to serve in WWII but was considered too frail by recruiters. Undeterred, he began bodybuilding during the woebegone aftermath of the war, meanwhile developing a nationalist ideology. Feeling postwar Japan had lost its way, after gaining international literary success, he formed a paramilitary group aimed at returning Japan to its prewar glory.

Essentially, the author felt Japan’s WWII defeat subjugated the country and forced it to suppress its native character. Through his politics, he sought to reawaken the spirit of Japan. Mishima also sought an honorable death, the reason he hoped to join the military. He bemoaned a protracted death and openly lamented such a common fate.

On November 20, 1970, Mishima and followers broke into the Japanese Self-defense Force headquarters in Tokyo. Hoping to restore the emperor’s prominence, they apprehended the commander and attempted to incite a coup d'état. However, when Mishima addressed the troops he hoped to convert, they openly mocked him. After the failed revolt, the author committed seppuku and was decapitated by a follower per tradition.

Before his death, Mishima expounded his philosophy in an interview (English subtitles available, push the cc button if not displayed):

Did Mishima's suicide serve a greater purpose, or was it just the dramatic end of a tortured artist? Debate exists surrounding his reasons, but I would imagine modern-day nationalists have no trouble understanding his motives.

In metropolitan areas, Japanese residents are accustomed to the cacophony of right-wing activists. These isolationists blare the Japanese national anthem, interspersed among propaganda, from loudspeakers tuned to excessive decibels. Most often seen in Tokyo, they are impossible to ignore while within earshot. Donning anachronistic military uniforms, these political groups often cross urban areas “on raids” en route to demonstrate outside foreign embassies.

For the uninitiated, here’s a brief glimpse:

Although the whole hoorah is largely orchestrated and benign, it’s certainly makes for a lot of commotion. For anyone interested, Langley Esquire provides a great overview in English of 右翼団体 uyoku dantai, right-wing groups, on their YouTube channel:

The Japanese Alt-right Agenda

According to Langley Esquire, the Japanese alt-right espouses historical revisionism. They underplay the oft-cited “atrocities” committed by Japan in the 1930s and 40s and seek to revise existing accounts of their country’s history. As Langley Esquire Senior Advisor Michael Cucek purports, elected members of uyoku-dantai are quick to alter history textbooks, and some supporters have been known to harass journalists and intimidate online dissidents.

The Japan First Party, 日本第一党, Nippon Dai-ichi Tō, is one such group with traction in recent years. The political group was formed by civil servant turned activist Makoto Sakurai. Sakurai originally led the 在日特権を許さない市民の会 zainichi tokken o yurusunai shimin no kai (Association of citizens against the special privileges of foreigners) party which espoused extreme anti-Korean views. After the party was branded a xenophobic hate group, Sakurai formed The Japan First Party.

However, the alt-right group seems to maintain many of the same ultra-nationalist policy positions. Claiming some 2,000 members, the group supports a hard line agenda. According to their website, some key policies include:

  • Redrafting the Japanese Constitution and reinstating the Emperor as head of state
  • Reinstating the military
  • Reasserting dominion over disputed islands
  • Abolishing the Japan-Korea comfort women agreement
  • Restricting immigration policies and reviewing foreign nationals access to welfare benefits
  • Severe restrictions of the political activities of foreign organizations and foreign nationals
  • Abolishing the consumption tax and creating a progressive income tax
  • Making teaching the national anthem mandatory

It seems the group has had limited political success. Currently there are no members in any elected office.

That being said, the group has referenced support from Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike, who was apparently a guest speaker at the group's event (although she has claims she doesn't recall the event). While Japan and the international community continue to face uncertain times, it would not be surprising to see such nationalist groups further assert their agendas.

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© grape Japan

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

25 Comments
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Loserville.

The cornball level of the Uyoku Dantai rabble goes through the roof of their silly little modified automobiles. They are hilariously robotic. Surely they are in breach of some kind of noise/disturbance laws ???

Yukio Mishima, another complete loser. Masakatsu Morita was his mate employed to lop off his noggin after Mishima embarrassed himself at the JSDF headquarters in Ichigaya. He botched the decapitation attempt badly, so some other loser had to take a crack at it.

Mishima’s meticulous planning to go out in a chop-choppy blaze of glory didn’t quite pan out as hoped for. Morita proceeded to stab himself as punishment for being too much of a loser to carry out the beheading. So up steps Koga to perform the glorious duty. He also chopped the head off Morita, for good measure.

Koga was sentenced to 4 years in prison but only served a few months as was a well behaved lad while in the slammer. Japan’s judicial system in all its glory.

He’s still alive and lives in Kumamoto (under a different name).

11 ( +12 / -1 )

TandoorinachoT

Loserville.

Very well said!

That being said, the group has referenced support from Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike, who was apparently a guest speaker at the group's event (although she has claims she doesn't recall the event).

She was drunk and doesn't remember? Another LOSER!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Of much greater concern are the many LDP politicians who both publicly and privately endorse their agenda. This neo-fascist manifesto differs little from the policy positions of the LDP.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Noise control laws would be nice.

The 3AM ambulance, amplified mufflers and these charmers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Surely they are in breach of some kind of noise/disturbance laws ???

I always assumed the noise laws here punished those who didn't make noise, based upon the ridiculous cacophony of daily life.

Every goddamn thing makes some sound. Why do escalators have to talk? Why does an approaching train require videogame music to be played? Why are the hosts, "comedians", and "talents" on the variety shows always yelling instead of talking? The blaring cacophony of pachinko parlors as the doors open when you walk past. (Plus, the added bonus of cigarette smoke.) Vendor trucks driving around the neighborhoods, announcing their wares. The garbage trucks in my town even have loudspeakers! Even hearing the shouting of irrashaimase gets annoying after a while, as well-meaning as it is.

It is a noisy place.

The political announcements just get lost in the sauce for me. Of course, a big part of that is my extremely poor understanding of the language. Maybe I'm better off that way, or I'd probably have something to say to these a-holes, and get myself in trouble.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I wish Tokyo On Fire was still going. Very informative and objective discussions about the politics and inner workings of Japan.

Hate speech laws were introduced to try and curb the black van cacophony but have never been inforced. Much like how Trump courts white supremacists in the U.S. the government here also discretely coddles these ultra-right wing nuts. It's not hard to find pictures of top Japanese politicians shaking hands and exchanging drinks with these sordid types. Like for example at one of Abe's now infamous invite only hanami partys.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

garypen:

Every goddamn thing makes some sound.

I have the jingles from every damn supermarket going through my head all the time. I just don't think I could work in Japanese supermarkets, not to mention the fact that I have to announce the damn price of every single item I scan to the customer at checkout. Back home, the supermarkets don't play music or jingles, noisy bikers are not tolerated and any politician who goes round the neighbourhood shouting into a loudspeaker, especially on Sunday mornings, are not going to get elected. And don't get me started on fascist right-wing protests - there will always be a bigger counter-protest and they'll be shouted down.

Yeah, Koike, she's a real piece of work.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Every country has these nationalist, xenophobic losers. Unfortunately they seem to be gaining power, if not by elections but by influencing and infiltrating power bases. They need to be watched very closely.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Essentially, the author felt Japan’s WWII defeat subjugated the country and forced it to suppress its native character. 

And he was right. I am fine letting these right wingers blare their horns and blow off steam. They seem harmless enough.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

While I do not agree with the rest of their agenda, "Abolishing the consumption tax and creating a progressive income tax" seems like a good idea to me. Let the rich pay their fair whack like they used to.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

expatToday  10:50 am JST

Of much greater concern are the many LDP politicians who both publicly and privately endorse their agenda. This neo-fascist manifesto differs little from the policy positions of the LDP.

Yes. Which exposes how poorly written this article is.

Everyone knows Abe has been pushing hard to reconfigure the Constitution and has been leading the charge on revisionist history.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

To be fair to Yukio Mishima, he may have been a narcissistic, hard gay, bodybuilding, fascistic nutter but he wrote some good books.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Sad sad people

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I once worked near the US Consulate in Osaka and these guys would be blasting the consulate and my office building nearby for hours! It gave me a good excuse to take a walk to the bookstore.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

First read of Mishima was The temple of the Golden Pavillion after watching the movie "Mishima: A life in 4 chapters". If you can catch that movie now you should watch it - compelling.

Deep, Dark & Cold are many of his works - which no doubt is part of the romanticized attraction that plays to the heart of the uyoku - that and his fanatical nationalism.

And for a great short read, his novel "Sound of Waves" couldn't be any different. A story of Young Love with a happy ending.

I wonder if the extreme right also embrace his fascination for homo-eroticism?

I wonder?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Very informative article. The uyoku tribes have been making noise for decades, and every few years or so a foreigner will venture into their territory and write an article about them. This guy did a good job, however, I think, as some posters mentioned, their beliefs are much deeper than he mentions. They are not alt rightist or something comparable from the West, and they are not new to the scene. They made allot of noise during the Bush Iraq invasion. Like many things in Japan its hard to make any sense of what they really are about, and there are many factions, but the commonality among them seems to be (having worked for some of these like minded prizes) they want everybody who is not Japanese to be subjugated. They admire the Imperial Japanese army and all that noise, and are unique and superior to the rest of us. The have adopted some unique, Japanese form of fascist doctrine as well it seems. Basically its just WW2 all over again. Its just rinse repeat the same nonsense over and over and work themselves into a hissy fit. Ive often wondered if this characteristic is....well better not say that. Recently I havent seen too much of them, because of the Olympics I guess, but according to some of you, they are still out and about. Anyways, good read; real article about real Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The cornball level of the Uyoku Dantai rabble goes through the roof of their silly little modified automobiles. They are hilariously robotic. Surely they are in breach of some kind of noise/disturbance laws ???

to the uninformed, thats how they appear. They are actually minions for people who, do to their position or status, cannot speak, so the fella in jack boots with a mega watt level speaker does it for him or her. Ive heard about connections with this or that. Treading carefully, but its the psychosis of a defeated paradigm, that once cheered bonzai atop buildings in conquered countries. Now make the jump to being conquered and losing it all over night. Its their history and Ive endured their version of it, but perhaps its a necessary evil?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I wonder if the extreme right also embrace his fascination for homo-eroticism?

Hell yeah! That's the reason 99% of those guys join to spend weekends together.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I once worked in a place infested with these types, and was in "deep"; nobody next to me to make sense of it so I connect with the article but trying to make sense of it, it gets bizarre. I thought it was perhaps part of the continuum of the ancient history of this group protects that group part of Japan, but that made no sense either. Bosozuku Chimpura Uyoku Yak pipeline....I never got it figured out, some sort of manifestation of damaged psychology, rebellion to conformity? because the projection of dominance and power gig is up, so it only applies within borders? driving around embassies and harassing, I guess that gives a boost of esteem or an escape from something, but to continue that for decades...whats the logic or purpose?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They should make a vacuum big enough to suck the uyoku buses and trucks right up off the streets.

Yes, the noise is relentless, isn't it? Could you imagine the agony of working in a shop with the store song replaying every 20 seconds?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In Italy by the article 4 of the constitution it is prohibited to reform the fascist party or any kind of affiliation,to hail to any forms of fascism and to carry any flags,uniforms or medals from that period,punishment will be jail.

So when I think about these evil Oyoku they should all be in prison,sad that Japan didn't have the drastic approach to fight such silly ideologies like Italy and Germany also did.

There is no room for racism,presumption of superiority of a different race etc.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"So when I think about these evil Oyoku they should all be in prison,sad that Japan didn't have the drastic approach to fight such silly ideologies like Italy and Germany also did.

There is no room for racism,presumption of superiority of a different race etc."

A founding principal of democratic self governance is freedom of speech. While the quote most often attributed to Voltaire "I may disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death the right to say it" What the Germans, Italians and other nations do with regard to past facism in Europe is censorship. It has no place in a free society. Offensive speech is protected. It is up to the listener/reader to consume the various points of view and come to their own conclusions. If you think an idea is odious the right response in never censorship. Instead the way to deal with repugnant ideas is to come up with a logical counter argument. The fee competition of ideas is the hallmark of a free society. If you think this is wrong, consider that your idea may someday be odious to the crowd and subject to censorship. What goes around always and forever comes around so be careful what you wish for.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

General MacArthur‘s biggest mistake was not to require that schools include the factual history of Japan’s War time atrocities and transgressions against its Asian neighbors. This has fostered a generation of hate and discrimination based on an uninformed and misinformed public. The government cannot apologize for it’s past transgressions against its Asian neighbors for it knows not what to apologize for. These far right hate groups in Japan are just like the Nazis in the United States. The only difference is the Nazis are encouraged by Donald Trump. Abe cannot control the right wing hate groups in Japan because he knows not what the true history is.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These far right hate groups in Japan are just like the Nazis in the United States. The only difference is the Nazis are encouraged by Donald Trump. Abe cannot control the right wing hate groups in Japan because he knows not what the true history is.

Wrong. The uyoku have been around long before Trump; thats a false comparison. Trump is about as much of a Nazi as I am Chinese. I agree with the Mac part of your post though. I think Mac just wanted to be done with Japan and move on to Korea, so he gave it all back to the revisionist.

Nazism Fascism and Communism are not really practiced according to their original doctrines in Asia. These ideas just fit their collective patriarchal society. and they modified it to work for them. The Nazis did not really understand the Japanese at that time if you read their documents about Japan. They just admired their nationalism but thought of them as peculiar, like the kamikaze and bonzai fanatical charge and all that good stuff. They were actually quite different in many ways, the emperor was not a fuehrer, but was more divinely ordained to lead the yamato movement. Seems more aligned with the culture of China and Korea if you ask me, but Im not Japanese

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Had a comment removed for being "off topic," but maybe maybe I was so vague and subtle that it was misunderstood.

The term "alt-right" refers to a phenomenon in the U.S. According to Merriam-Webster:

"a right-wing, primarily online political movement or grouping based in the U.S. whose members reject mainstream conservative politics and espouse extremist beliefs and policies typically centered on ideas of white nationalism"

I don't think uyoku can be called "alt-right."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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