A meeting between Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Makoto Sakurai, the chairman of Zaitokukai, a group that has repeatedly engaged in hate speech against Korean residents in Japan, ended after only 10 minutes when both men started shouting at each other.
The two men were seated at tables about three meters apart at Monday's meeting at the Osaka government office. At one point, Sakurai stood up and approached Hashimoto, but aides got in between the two men, NHK reported.
Although the meeting was originally intended to be a civil discussion, it quickly degenerated into a shouting match with both parties insulting each other.
Hashimoto told Sakurai and his group to stop their hate speech against ethnic groups. "We don't need racists like you here in Osaka," Hashimoto said. The two men kept interrupting each other before Hashimoto finally decided he'd had enough, stood up and left the room.
Zaitokukai organizes hate speech rallies and argues that the Japanese government should not grant special rights to Koreans living in Japan.
In July, the Osaka high court upheld a lower court ruling that its hate speech directed at a Korean school is unlawful. Zaitokukai had appealed a ruling by the Kyoto district court last October in which it was ordered to pay 12 million yen in damages after its members yelled abuse outside a pro-Pyongyang Korean elementary school in Kyoto.
Zaitokukai claims to have more than 10,000 members. Though attendance at their rallies has been limited to a few hundred people at most and they are far from becoming mainstream, similar demonstrations of nationalists targeting ethnic Koreans and other minorities have escalated over the past year in Tokyo and other cities, amid Japan's chilly diplomatic relations with its Asian neighbors.
Last year, in Tokyo's Shin-Okubo district, dotted with Korean restaurants and shops popular among South Korean pop-culture fans, hundreds of Zaitokukai members and supporters called Koreans "cockroaches," shouted "Kill Koreans" and threatened to "throw them into the sea."
There are about 500,000 Koreans in Japan - the country's largest ethnic minority group - and many are descendants of forced laborers shipped to Japan during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea. They still face discrimination in education, marriage and jobs.© Japan Today/AP