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Right-wing burps

thomas

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Reported by the New York Times, July20, 2002:

Behind Blaring Tokyo Vans, a Whisper of Conspiracy

By Howard W. French

Tokyo, July 20 窶 The noise sneaks up on you from afar, starting with the low beat of a bass drum, whose rumble recalls the boots of soldiers on the march.

Next come the strains of an unmistakably martial music. What follows is a performance of emperor worship and militaristic propaganda that is as deafening as a Marilyn Manson concert.

This is the world of the right-wing sound truck. Tokyo may be known internationally for its decorum, but for decades the perennially aggrieved men in paramilitary fatigues who operate these vehicles have made earsplitting public disturbances a regular feature of life here.

The Japanese have often assumed a link between these militant nationalists, who appear to have free run of the streets, and the country's leadership.

In fact, the huge buses and trucks filled with scowling crews in headbands are usually escorted through the streets by chummy policemen in squad cars, even as they flout public nuisance laws limiting sound levels.

Former far-rightists, retired policemen and historians say, though, that they are not just noisy pressure groups. These observers contend that many of the nationalists disturb the peace and intimidate people freely because of their deep ties to the country's conservative political elite.

Those who have studied them say that they are useful in bullying opponents of the long-governing, and conservative, Liberal Democratic Party and that many of them are actually members of criminal gangs that use their influence and protection to practice extortion.

Suspicions that the nationalists have ties to the country's leaders were reinforced last month, when Japan was a co-host of the World Cup soccer tournament. With the government trying desperately to put Japan's best face forward, the noisy bully boys on 18 wheels conveniently disappeared from the streets.

The Tokyo police strenuously deny having cozy ties with the sound truck operators or receiving pressure from above to go lightly on them.

"We are not protecting these people," said Hideo Kurokawa, a police spokesman. "It is more like guiding them through the streets."

Asked about the noise levels, another police official, Hiroshi Ishii, said it was "very difficult" to measure decibel levels from moving vehicles. When an interviewer protested that Japan was famous for its high-tech electronics, he switched defenses, saying, "This is a sensitive issue that could lead to a constitutional debate over freedom of speech."

But those familiar with the groups say disturbing the peace is the least of the problems. They say the noisy disruptive behavior masks other, far more serious crimes, like extortion.

"Historically, the line between radical elements of the right and elite elements of the L.D.P. has been a very thin one," said Sheldon M. Garon, a professor of Japanese history at Princeton.

Mr. Garon said many of the party's well-known top politicians had been members of rightist groups. Japan's mainstream press, which has sometimes been among the victims of far-right violence, treats the subject as taboo.

Akio Kuroki, a retired policeman and freelance journalist, whose police job was to monitor right-wing groups, said they enjoyed close ties with law enforcement.

"The police are supposed to be neutral, but they are very close to the right-wingers and their mentality," he said. "If the right-wingers break the law, they are supposed to be arrested, but many police feel that would spoil the relationship."

Asked about rumored ties to powerful politicians, Mr. Kuroki was more elliptical. "Do you know how much money it costs to hire buses like that and provide drinks and food for all the crews?" he said. "Their known activities are not enough to explain where all the money comes from."

Yoshitomo Kobayashi, 33, a construction worker who has spent years in various rightist movements, said he had been attracted to the groups that operate sound trucks by his disillusionment with the weakness and corruption of Japanese political leaders.

"There are so many parties in Japan that whenever the prime minister tries to decide something he is stymied by the opposition," he said in an interview. "I felt that wasn't right. Somebody has to be in command so that we aren't changing direction all the time."

Grievances like those make nationalists like Mr. Kobayashi the not-so-distant cousins of disgruntled workers and unemployed youth in Europe who see right-wing authoritarianism as an answer to their countries' problems.

A difference is that while many of their Western counterparts demonize ethnic minorities, the Japanese far right, with few such scapegoats available, focuses on nursing old war wounds and glorifying the emperor.

"Japan today has lost its purpose as a nation and is stuck with a dysfunctional system," said Mitsuhiro Kimura, 45, the leader of a far-right group named Issuikai, in a recent interview with the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. "Political corruption is beyond belief. I just don't believe the law can fix all the problems."

Mr. Kimura said his group approved of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and supported Palestinian suicide missions. The goal of Issuikai, one of about 800 such groups in Japan, is to carry out a revolution that would restore political power to Japan's emperors.

But Mr. Kobayashi, the construction worker, said that while he had set out to fight political corruption when he began joining far-right groups, what he discovered was deep-seated corruption within the sound truck groups themselves.

According to Mr. Kobayashi and many who have investigated the groups, the principal activity of most sound truck operators is akin to old-fashioned Mafia racketeering. Indeed, they say, many of the groups' members are yakuza, or Japanese gangsters.

Sound truck operators are known to pull up outside a business's headquarters and begin blasting messages criticizing the management until they are paid off. People who get into debt trouble, commonplace in Japan's moribund economy, also sometimes hire them as muscle to get creditors to extend easier terms.

"I joined a right-wing group because I wanted to get beneath the surface of politics and see things as they really are," Mr. Kobayashi said. "What I discovered, though, is that we are really powerless to change anything. In fact, most of the rightists aren't even serious about trying.

"They do this for money."


Copyright © New York Times
 

shintemaster

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3 Points on this...

#1 I HATE THESE GUYS :angryfire Even when I was living in Fukuoka they were noisy and PISS me off. The Japanese police in general can be absolutely frustrating in their lack of action.
One little story...

Where I was living in Fukuoka there were always loud and speeding motorists around the area and I NEVER once noticed the police doing anything about it. On the other hand when some major crimes came up such as some English neighbours placing some of their cans in a restaurant recylcing gomi for collection one day... well lets just say that the police were called in and spent half an hour berating my neighbour the next day and pointing out that it was people like him that were ruining the pleasant atmosphere of the neighbourhood!!!

#2 I hate these guys!!!:)

Without a doubt they are at least given non-interference support from the police. Right wing nationalists on the whole do tend towards being pleasant, easy to get along with types all around the world, don't they??😊
 

moyashi

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hehe ... the [u-ryo-ku-dan]

I see their trucks parked here and there every once in a while. They're pretty active when aircraft carriers come to Otaru.

I hate em too.

Police do guide them because remember that it's 4-5 cops to 1 rowdy .... so they just end up giving them escort service and make sure nothing bad happens.

hmmmm 33 year old construction worker. That means 15-20 years ago that guy was a minor. Possibly he was part of the [bosozoku]. I bet some of the Uryokudan are actually Yakuza making money through extrotion.

I heard that there isn't a noise ordiance in Japan. Well, at least not in Sapporo that's for sure.

haha, you broke the gomi law. And the neighborhood obachan reported you. Police seem to make their moves only when they get called on.
 

shintemaster

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See I TOLD you that Japan needs more nursing homes. We must stop this unnatural abuse of power by little old ladies with nothing better to do!!!
 
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