|July 12, 2011|
Swastikas were on prominent display on Saturday in Tokyo during a march and demonstration by a few dozen members of xenophobic groups in the trendy Shibuya neighborhood of Japan’s capital city. “In this instance, the main targets of hate appear to be Chinese and Koreans,” noted Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading human rights NGO. “While the language and targets of racism may be different than those of Nazis in Europe, the hatred and dehumanization of ‘the enemy’ fits the ideology behind the Nazi Swastika,” he added.
The demonstration was organized by Haigaisha, a right-wing group that openly opposes social welfare for foreigners residing legally in Japan and advocates their expulsion from the country. The group's name translates: “Society to Get Rid of the harm or danger” and it targets ethnic Chinese and Koreans, many of whom were forcibly brought to Japan as laborers before World War II, and their descendants. The demonstration was also joined by “Zaitoku-kai,” an abbreviation of its full name, which literally means “Citizens' Organization That Rejects Special Entitlements For Permanent-Residence Foreigners.” Demonstrators are heard chanting on a YouTube of Saturday's march against non-Japanese: “Go home now!” and “You are parasites.” The march was guided by local police through the Shibuya neighborhood.
Last August, members of this group terrorized five-year olds outside of a Japanese Kindergarten that includes children from families with Korean background.
“Freedom of Speech may be a foundation of any democracy, and these groups may have the legal right to be heard. However, Japanese citizens and NGOs should not stand idly by when such extremists take to the streets,” said Rabbi Cooper. “The good people of Japan must also exercise their right of free speech by publicly speaking out against such bigotry,” Rabbi Cooper concluded.
Rabbi Cooper frequently comes to Japan in connection with a wide range of human rights issues. During his most recent visit, he lectured at Universities on Digital Terrorism and Hate, a Simon Wiesenthal Center project that tracks how extremist groups leverage Internet technologies to serve their hateful agendas.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
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