The rain had cleared, so after the opening ceremonies, Mike and I walked from Umeda to Namba, via the Midosuji. It’s about a 45-minute walk through all the main neighbourhoods. As we approached Namba, we noticed a lot of cops, and roadblocks separating the right lane from the others (it’s a four-lane boulevard, the main artery of the city). Then we heard the martial music.
Rightist groups ride around in big black trucks on various occasions (National Foundation Day, the Emperor’s Birthday, etc). I had no idea, though, what significance April 11th had on the rightist calendar. You don’t have to live in Japan long before you hear the black trucks blaring old wartime marches and shouts over loudspeakers,revering the emperor as a god and denouncing the Chinese/Koreans /Communists, or whoever happens to be on their shit-list that week. Noise pollution laws are weak to non-existent here (coincidence?), so you can usually hear them coming from very far away. I’ve heard this defended as Freedom of Expression, but could not imagine the cops letting a group of leftists drive around barking slogans while blaring the Internationale.
As we crossed the street near the Citibank in Shinsaibashi, one of the trucks pulled over and two police officers walked up to them. Keep the noise down? Oi, clear off? Nothing like it. They chatted amiably with the local fascists, joked and laughed with the driver (a dumpy-looking thug with a droopy mustache), before chuckling and walking back to their road-blocks.
During all this, a woman’s voice (a recent innovation – kinder, gentler fascism) very loudly proclaimed something or other (they’re so loud that I can never understand them). Along the side, an elaborate slogan with pirate-flag-skull punctuation. The driver smoked a cigarette (allegedly illegal along the Midosuji) while talking to the cop. The truck followed slowly behind us before stopping at (I should have guessed) the Korean consulate. I looked back – the driver threw his cigarette out the window and gawked at us. I did the only honourable thing – I flipped him the bird. Probably not the wisest thing to do to a looney who was so obviously tight with the police, but it certainly felt good. We kept walking and he – stuck outside the the Korean consulate broadcasting deafening slogans – glared at us through the windshield.