OSAKA – The leader and seven members of a group opposed to hate speech directed against Korean residents of Japan were arrested Wednesday for allegedly assaulting an anti-Korean demonstrator last year.
Police said Atsuhiro Soeda, 41, and seven others are suspected of obstructing the demonstrator, verbally threatening him and also shoving him against a wall at a subway station in Osaka.
The 47-year-old man, a member of a right-wing group, was en route to a rally on Oct. 26 calling for the severing of diplomatic ties between Japan and South Korea, according to the police.
Investigative sources said Soeda and his companions have said their protests against hate speech are nonviolent.
Also Wednesday, police raided 10 locations in seven prefectures, including Tokyo, Osaka and Tochigi, among them the house of an anti-hate-speech activist.
Confrontations between anti- and pro-Korean groups are rising, particularly in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo and Osaka’s Tsuruhashi areas, which are known as Koreatowns.