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Monday, July 11, 2011

Trash Kan


I had just gotten on the Ginza Subway line in Omotesando on Sunday, when I encountered this guy standing on the train.

I struck up a conversation and learned he was on his way home from a demonstration in Inokashira Park against the administration of the present Democratic Party of Japan prime minister, Naoto Kan.

I asked him what he didn't like about Prime Minister Kan, and was somewhat taken aback to hear that "Kan is not Japanese!" I must have looked a little baffled, because he went on to explain that Kan "paid too much attention to North Korea, China, South Korea, and those other countries."

I asked the guy if his opposition was to Kan's political priorities - but there things got a little baffling and the conversation fizzled out.

I did some research when I got home and found that the demonstration was one organized by the Ganbare Nippon! ("Go For It, Japan!") National Action Committee, which is a conservative body, formed in February 2010, opposed to closer ties with China in particular. The focus of their efforts since September 2010 has been on the rightful ownership of the disputed Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands (AKA the Pinnacle Islands), which Japan controlled from 1895 to 1945, and which it still claims sovereignty over. China and Taiwan are united in asserting that they belong to Taiwan, while Japan officially considers them part of Okinawa prefecture.

The Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands were the scene of a collision on 7 September 2010, when a Chinese fishing boat collided with a Japan Coast Guard boat. The captain was arrested, but released after China cut off all ministerial-level contact with Japan.

From photos of past Ganbare Nippon! demonstrations, there seem to be a lot of young people, including lots of young mothers with elementary school age kids or younger, involved - a fact that the youth of today's demonstrator further spoke to. There are lots and lots of Rising Sun flags in the pics, and even some old imperial-style pre-war versions of it, too - a sure sign of something right-wing in Japan.

Japanese politics are as amorphous and fickle as the regularity with which the country's administrations are replaced might suggest. The placard here was fun, but on closer inquiry I didn't manage to extract anything particularly concrete - just a general sense of dissatisfaction.

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