“Koreans that live here are feeling the pressure"
These days, we see graffiti on the walls saying things like “go back to Korea” or “end Korean privilege”. These people are convinced that Koreans receive more welfare from the government than Japanese citizens and condemn what they perceive to be an injustice. Their claims are utterly false. But for years, online ultra-nationalists [Editor’s note: also known as “netouyo”] have been propagating misinformation on the Internet. It’s a particularly easy message to spread because Japanese society has been very shaken by the economic crisis. And so Koreans became the root of all Japan’s problems.The Korean media are a prime target for these racist movements, who condemn their view of history, among other things. [Editor’s note: several issues are at the core of the tensions between South Korea and Japan, namely the Korean “comfort women” who were forced into prostitution by the occupying Japanese army from 1910 to 1945].It is very difficult for the authorities to squash this hateful speech, especially online. If they tried to do anything, Internet users would scream, “this isn’t China!” and brandish their right to free speech [Editor’s note: this right is guaranteed by the Japanese constitution]. And I think that the current government doesn’t really want to quiet the movement. It seems to me that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is benefiting from this atmosphere because it shores up support for him on the political right. He has not come out strongly against these movements.The Koreans that live here have of course felt the pressure. That said, I noticed that they were not leading the counter-protests. These are led by Japanese anti-racist activists. Koreans are trying to stay out of the fray.