Another big black van full of Japanese rightists was heard booming its way through Umeda at lunchtime today. The recorded voice was female (kinder, gentler fascism, as noted earlier this month), and the volume was such that I had no idea what she was saying (not that I can really follow their archaic jargon anyway). The only word I could decipher was “Chuugoku” (China, 中国). The Japanese right’s hatred of China is well-known, and today’s arrival of the Olympic torch is probably what’s got them rattling their cages. Business as usual.
But wait – what is that large photograph in the front windshield? I squint and stop in my tracks – it’s the Dalai Lama. Now, since the Japanese militarist right regards most other Asians as subhuman, fit only for subjugation (a theory last tested 70 years ago and still needing, in their opinion, more field work), I can’t understand their belated support for the Tibetans. I do know that the Lama is deeply respected by practicing Buddhists and the socially aware, and the right has also, somehow, cottoned on to this. They’re hiding behind the Tibetan struggle, the better to put the boot into the Chinese. Of course, they want a boycott; of course, they don’t give a damn about the Tibetans.
The truck rolled past. I smiled and waved politely, having learned that they hate foreigners doing that even more than being given the finger. They expect to be feared and respected (they certainly get the former, if not the latter, from the locals who don’t even look up). The truck was probably empty except for the dumpy, humourless, middle-aged driver (they all look the same, those guys), but with the windows all blacked out, it was difficult to tell.
On the back of the truck, to my continuing surprise, was an airbrushed portrait of the writer Yukio Mishima, shirtless, looking severe, and holding a katana. Like the portrait, Mishima has been airbrushed to suit the needs of the looney right. According to Donald Richie, who was acquainted with Mishima for nearly 20 years, the writer would have despised the unfit and ignorant thugs who now hold him up as a symbol of their cause. Besides, if you want to read some of his works abroad, you’ll often be directed to the gay literature section of the bookstore. Like most subjects pertaining to reality, it’s something the rightists (who are of course as homophobic as they are racist) are in denial about. In the unlikely event that I’m ever in conversation with one, the first topic I’ll bring up will be Confessions of a Mask. I’m sure he’ll never have heard of it.
Naturally, I didn’t have my camera, so no photos. Recently, though, late-April in Japan has become the watered-down, truck-driven equivalent of Marching Season, so I might have plenty more chances.