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Monday, September 12, 2016

North Korean Aligned Protesters in Japan say No to THAAD


Korean Japanese demonstrate for peace in Ueno, Tokyo.

There are about 900,000 people of Korean descent living in Japan, less than a third of whom are naturalized Japanese citizens. The Japanese Korean People's Unification Alliance (Zainichi Kankoku Minshu Toitsu Rengo (在日韓国民主統一連合) is an association of Korean nationals - most of them born in Japan - who support the cause of reunification of the Korean peninsula - but under the auspices of North Korea.

There was a small band of Zainichi Kankoku Minshu Toitsu Rengo members dressed in traditional Korean costume, banging drums, bearing a banner reading "Peace Campaign" (ピース・キャンペーン in katakana), and handing out pamphlets in the Ueno district of Tokyo yesterday, beside the entrance to Ueno Park and the Keisei Ueno Railway station.

I stopped and took a photo and talked to one of the guys handing out pamphlets. It so turned out they were protesting against the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system to be used in South Korea to counter the new threat of North Korean nuclear weapons.

Anti-THAAD pamphlet by a North-Korea-aligned Japanese Korean group in Tokyo.
The anti-THAAD side of the pamphlet I received
He also gave me a pre-printed postcard addressed to the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, and featuring, among other things, two pictures of the late "Dear Leader," Kim Jong-il, shaking hands with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. He asked me to please write an anti-THAAD message on it, affix a stamp to it, and post it. I said I'd read the pamphlet first.

Anti--Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) pamphlet by a North-Korea-aligned Japanese Korean group in Tokyo.
Anti--Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG)  side of the pamphlet I received.

One side of the pamphlet is anti-THAAD, the other side is anti-Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG), the massive military exercises conducted by South Korea and the United States every year since 1976, the posited opponent in the exercise being North Korea.

North Korea gets a brief mention in the pamphlet, not as a belligerent, but simply as a country that should not be provoked and with which dialog should be sought.

Anti-THAAD postcard for posting to Park Geun-hye, the President of South Korea, given to me at Ueno Park, Tokyo.
Anti-THADD postcard for posting to Park Geun-hye

Japanese Koreans who align themselves with North Korea are not as vocal or powerful as they were up to a decade or so ago, partly because the  General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, AKA Chongryon, no longer enjoys the funding it used to by an increasingly hard up North Korea, and also because the anti-Korean discrimination in Japan which bolstered the organization's raison d'etre is not as strong and widespread as it used to be.

Anti-THAAD postcard for posting to Park Geun-hye - the side to write a personal message on.
Message side of the anti-THAAD postcard to Korean President Park Geun-hye.

However, pockets of activity like we got to see on Sunday in the Ueno shopping district show that apologists for the North Korea regime still have a considerable voice here in Japan.

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