Tuesday, 16 August 2011

15 August

I had planned to go to Yasukuni today  (15 Aug) but got waylaid by unexpected events. 15 Aug marks the day of the Japanese surrender in WWII and Yasukuni is the hang out of the right wing nationalists, particularly on 15 August.

Yasukuni, a shrine in Kudanshita, central Tokyo honours the war dead.  In the beginning it symbolized progressive modernity. It honoured the war dead - casualties of Japanese imperialism which was inseparable from modernization. Furthermore it was refreshingly egalitarian - commoners were enshrined (had their spirits put into the shrine) alongside samurai and upper classes.  After the war, it remained a place to honour  (or worship depending on your perspective) war dead. And it wasn't much of an issue  since most countries have remembrance for the war dead.  In 1978 though the rather provocative, politically appointed head of the shrine decided to enshrine the war criminals - much to the disgust and dismay of China & Korea.  PM Koizumi's visits to the shrine were designed to be provocative and they were, providing a catalyst for major anti Japanese riots in China.

And now? No members of the DPJ cabinet went to the shrine yesterday; 50 law makers did.  Among the fifty include former PM Abe, Opposition leader Tanigaki.   Had I realised I might have made more effort to get there. I should start writing my  anti shrine visit slogans now so I have plenty of time to practice.

The right wingers were out in force yesterday across Tokyo - I encountered some on Gaien Higashi Dori trying to get to the Russian embassy.  No doubt they had been practising their abusive chants along the lines of "Ruskis give us back the islands." It makes for a strange scene that is a bizarre ritualistic charade.  Flagged drapped nationalists bear down, police stare back, nationalists make a lot of noise -  blaring their music, shouting their propaganda but don't block the traffic, eventually they drive off....
One would think if they were serious, they would disguise themselves.  I am not sure why the nationalists always identify themselves - it's  such a charade and quite nonsensical.
Right wingers at Kinshicho last week.
Territorial disputes with Korea, China and Russia, immigration
foreigners figure prominently in their agenda.

Right wingers milling about on foot on Gaien Higashi dori, Azabudai.
One could be forgiven for thinking they had a reasonably
cozy relationship with the police...

The police blocking off the road to protect the Russian embassy from abuse.

Directly opposite the looming right winger cavalcade.

Opening gates carefully to let ordinary cars through.

The police bus (blue) as extra backup behind the gate.

Letting the postie around.

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