Yasukuni, the Day of Showa, Hinomaru Crossed out

On April 29, the Day of Showa, I went to visit Yasukuni Shrine, alone.

 This is its second torii, a shrine gateway.

I had prepared an A4 piece of paper.

It says "Down with the Day of Showa," and features a Hinomaru crossed out. It also includes my Japanese blog URL, http://d.hatena.ne.jp/toled/ and my Twitter ID, @toled. I signed my name, Yujiro Tsuneno.

Then I put the paper on one of the legs of the torii.

Quickly I moved away.

What is Hinomaru? It is the Japanese equivalent of the Nazi swastika. It was adopted as the national flag of the Empire of Japan at its inception. Even after its defeat in 1945, Hinomaru was not abandoned. It has continued as the symbol of the country, and if you take a short walk in any city here, you can find it everywhere, at government buildings, streets, schools, commercial outlets and so on, testament to the continuation of the Japanese imperialism, colonialism, and militarism.

The Day of Showa is the birthday of Hirohito, the Showa Emperor. Unlike Adolf Hitler, he survived his defeat. He was not put on trial. He did not even step down, and his reign persisted for decades until his death in 1989. The Day is designated as a national holiday.

And Yasukuni Shrine has been commemorating the deaths of the Japanese soldiers who fought in the Asia-Pacific region. Yes, it is still there, and visited by politicians, some prime ministers included, ordinary Japanese, and international tourists.

So that is the context. As for why I did what I did, if you are interested, throw some comments below, and maybe I will post another entry.

Although I did not intend it, some people pointed out that I broke the law and said they notified the police. I have no idea how likely, but it is possible that I get arrested for my humble attempt at expressing dissent in the near future. So if you are a journalist and would like to interview me before that happens, please contact me at yt5486yt at gmail.


I Endorse the International Statement of Solidarity for Comet Black, December 4

My name is Yujiro Tsuneno, and I express solidarity with Comet Black and join the following International Statement of Solidarity for Comet Black, December 4 (A video message follows). 

To everyone throughout the world who is fighting against discrimination, from the Rescue Committee for Comet Black, December 4: we would like to let you know what happened on a street near the Shibuya station, Tokyo, on December 4, 2010.

     Choi Daniel (崔檀悦), also known as Comet Black, a young Korean sociologist born in Japan, a Zainichi, protested by himself against a Japanese racist rally filled with ethnic hatred. The racist mob assaulted him, and he suffered severe injuries requiring three weeks to heal. The police, nonetheless, took no action against the perpetrators of violence, and arrested Comet Black, the victim of violence, for assaulting Shuhei Nishimura, a Japanese grass-roots racist activist.
     All Comet Black did was to protest in non-violent manners, standing alone before the racist march, holding a banner (See the following video). And the banner contained significant messages.
     He did not resort to any physical violence. Rather, dozens of racists started attacking him at once, hitting him with fists, kicking him, using Hinomaru poles as weapons. A lot of police officers were present at the scene to see it. The Shibuya Police Station arrested him, however; they took his finger prints; they did not offer him immediate medical care; moreover, they let the actual perpetrators of violence walk free without proper investigation.
     Fortunately Comet Black was released after about fifty hours of detention. However, this incident revealed the corruption and depravity of the Japanese civil society and government. Today’s Japan tolerates hate speech that debases human beings, and also condones hateful collective violence.
     Comet Black’s banner contained the following messages:

I am here for a dialogue.

We shall defend the rights to ethnic education!!

We shall hold onto the spirit of the HanShin Educational Struggle!

Unification of the homeland! 우리는하나 ANTIFA Comet Black☆

     Comet Black was born in Japan, and grew up in the Republic of Korea until the age of 13; since then, he has lived in Japan. In the nineteenth century, Japan started invading Korea and unlawfully annexed the peninsula (then the Greater Korean Empire) in 1910. Through its colonization, Japan forced assimilation education there, tying to deprive Koreans of their names and language and make them second-class Japanese. Even since its surrender in 1945, it has continued to violate the legitimate rights of Korean residents in Japan, Zainich, and other foreigners to ethnic education. Symbolic of the resistance to such oppression was the HanShin Educational Struggle, which protested against the order, issued by the General Head Quarters (GHQ) of the American Military Administration (AMA) in 1948, to close down Korean schools. 
      Instead of facing the historical responsibility for crimes against humanity, however, the Japanese government has persisted in its complicity with the division of the Korean Peninsula. Japan participated in the Korean War on the American side; even now, it poses a military threat to the Peninsula as an ally of the United States. In 2010, the Japanese government chose to take a further step: it excluded Korean schools from the “tuition-free policy for high schools,” which was supposed to be universal. The action was taken as a part of the unjust sanctions politics against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. At the same time, it is also a clear sign of Japan’s continuing colonialism; it is an oppression of Korean residents in Japan, Zainichi, and it should not be tolerated.
     Comet Black has been actively opposed to such discrimination. He has objected not only to discrimination against Koreans but also to discrimination against all foreigners living in Japan. He has been collecting signatures, participating in peaceful rallies; he has even organized an antiracist march himself; he is also networking people against anti-foreignism on the Internet. His supporters include his fellow Koreans, Japanese who oppose anti-foreignism, and even Japanese nationalists. He has been contributing to the antiracist movements in this country. His non-violent direct action on December 4 was no sudden caprice; it should be situated in the context of his steady commitment to the movements to counter anti-foreignism and discrimination against Korean schools.
     Now, about the racists against whom Comet Black protested alone on December 4, 2010: they were celebrating the anniversary of their achievement on December 4, 2009, which was to attack the First Korean Elementary School of Kyoto, calling the students “sons and daughters of spies,” shouting “get out of Japan” [See the video below]. He expressed his opposition to such people in a non-violent way, and was heavily beaten up. The police arrested him; the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office did not indict him after a lawyer (Kenta Hagio)’s interventions on his behalf, but made an ambiguous decision: under the Japanese legal system, they should have explicitly stated “no suspicion,” but chose not to do so.


     We are disappointed at what has been going on; we are also filled with a sense of crisis. We should never let him be isolated. As a member of the Japanese civil society as well as a Korean and a world citizen, he should not be personally exposed to any social, economic, political costs because of what has been taking place since December 4 last year.
     We are his friends; we are his comrades. And we never tolerate unjust discrimination and violence. It is our sincere hope that the international anti-racist communities agree. I express solidarity with Comet Black. We express solidarity with Comet Black. I am a Comet Black. In Japan, social sanctions on Comet Black still persist even after his release. That is just unjust. If the attacks on Comet Black are to continue, please add me/us to the list.

     We never stop saying this:

     We do not tolerate discrimination under any circumstances.

     OUR struggle has a long way to go.

January 9, 2011
Signed by the Rescue Committee for Comet Black, December 4 / ____________________________ (Blank space for anyone who is willing to sign)

We call upon people in the entire world to express solidarity with Comet Black and the statement above. Circulation and translation are welcome and much appreciated. Let us exchange our thoughts on this in Gaza, Pyongyang, Cairo, New Delhi, Chiapas, Kyoto, San Francisco, Cheju, Besançon, Siberia, Habana, Tsuruhashi, Jerusalem, Hong Kong, Cape town, Berlin, Vientiane, Euskadi, Seoul, Yaoundé, Teheran, Accra, Athens, Beijing, Ljubljana, Hiroshima, or any other place. We also suggest that Shibuya, December 4, be placed as an event in the world history.

The statement in Japanese:

International Statement of Solidarity for Comet Black, December 4

I Join the International Statement of Solidarity for Comet Black, December 4 (However, there's something I have to say)

12.4 黒い彗星★国際連帯声明

12.4 黒い彗星★国際連帯声明に賛同を表明します


A Japanese View on the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands Dispute

Does Japan have territorial rights over the Diaoyu / Senaku Islands? Here's what two Japanese guys think.

Or, if you read Japanese, check out the links below:


Oh, and No to Hate Speech Action has published a statement in English.
Handout of Press Conference


Pro-Immigrant Organization to Hold a Festival near the Shinagawa Immigration

This is such a short notice, but SYI, a pro-immigrant organization based in Tokyo, will hold a festival at Shinagawa Kita Futo Koen (品川北ふ頭公園), which is located near the infamous detention center, starting 6 p.m. on Monday, August 23. They will protest against the inhumane treatment of the detainees and Japan's unjust immigration policies in general, while singing, dancing, and drinking, in addition to trying to send a message of solidarity to the detainees by creating letters with candles. 

To get there, you can take a bus (品99) at the East Exit terminal of the Shinagawa Station.


World Refugee Day March to be Held in Tokyo, June 20

I'm in the United States for some family emergency, where I've met some amazing people who choose to offer help to a complete stranger. They will be examples I aspire to be in the rest of my life.

Here I'm pretty much tied up with solving family problems and haven't got much time to keep up with the current events, but I did learn about the death of a young boy at the Mexican border, which I guess implies that at least the news is given enough coverage by the mainstream media to inform the public.

Which has not been the case with the death of a Ghanaian in the hands of the immigration officers at Narita Airport, Japan, in March of this year. There were several tiny articles, and that's it. His Japanese wife was offered neither an apology nor a proper explanation from the authorities; in April, some Ghanaians and others, with APFS, marched in protest from Roppongi to Hibiya, shouting "We want justice," which they are yet to receive. Even his body has not been returned to her. A relatively minor journal reports this week that she will file an official complaint later in the month.

So what does this all mean? We have borders and Guantanamoes in Japan, and yet we don't even talk about it. The first step of a solution to a problem is an acknowledgement. We need to remember his death and insist on justice in public.

Which you can do by joining a demonstration to be held by SYI in Tokyo on June 20, the World Refugee Day. The Ghanaian's death and what has (not) happened since then are representative of what goes on inside detention centers and of this country's immigration policies in general. We need to change them if the word justice means anything at all. For the event's details, visit SYI's blog . I'm not sure I will make it as I have family issues, but if I do, see you then.

APFS and SYI are different organizations. Neither SYI nor I represent the Ghanaian's wife.


Economist Article

Last week The Economist published an article on the death of a Ghanaian at Narita in March. According to the article, not only has his wife yet to receive information regarding his death from the authority, but she lost her job because her name was found on the Internet. I myself mentioned her name in one of my earlier posts although I erased it several weeks ago. I don't know if her employer saw my blog, but I apologize for my carelessness. What was done to her is unjust and unlawful, but I should have known better about this society.


The Ghanaian's Wife Holds a Press Conference

Regarding the death of Abubakar Awudu Suraj in the hands of the Japanese immigration officers, his Japanese wife along with her lawyer and a representative from APFS held a press conference yesterday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. You can read a Japan Times article by Minoru Matsutani here.

Earlier, I wrote a letter to the Editor at Japan Times, which can be found here.

APFS on its blog encourages the readers to send a message of protest to the Ministry of Justice.