Ishihara warns that foreigners likely to riot after big quake

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has stirred up another controversy by remarking that foreigners in Japan could stage a riot following a major earthquake and urging the Self-Defense Forces to maintain public security in such emergencies.

“Atrocious crimes have been committed again and again by ‘sangokujin’ (people from Taiwan or Korea or their descendants) and other foreigners. We can expect them to riot in the event of a disastrous earthquake,” Ishihara said in an address Sunday before Ground Self-Defense Force members in a ceremony in Tokyo.

“Police have their limits. I hope you will not only fight against disasters but also maintain public security on such occasions,” he said.

“I hope you will show the Japanese people and the Tokyo people what the military is for in a state,” the 67-year-old Ishihara said in the address at a GSDF garrison in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward that was marking its 49th anniversary.

Sangokujin literally means “people from third countries.” The term gained currency after World War II and refers to people from the former Japanese colonial possessions of Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula, as well as their descendants. It is now widely regarded as a derogatory term.

After the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake struck Tokyo and its surrounding areas and caused the deaths of nearly 100,000 people, several thousand Koreans were lynched in Tokyo after unfounded rumors of Korean rioting were spread.

Commenting on Ishihara’s remarks, Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus of history of Japan-Asian relations at Hitotsubashi University, said the killing of Koreans after the quake shows the viciousness of prejudice.

Administrative chiefs should quell such prejudice, but Ishihara nevertheless encourages it, Tanaka said.

Kang Duk Sang, a Korean resident and professor of Korean contemporary history at the University of Shiga Prefecture, said, “The remarks are anachronistic in a time when many people from abroad live in Japan.”

Kang said the term “sangokujin” was used in Japan after the country was defeated in World War II to tell Korean residents, who had been Japanese nationals up to then, to get out of Japan as they were not needed any more.

Having been called so, Korean residents were stripped of Japanese citizenship and their human rights were disregarded, the professor said.