Head of anti-foreigner group Zaitokukai to step down


Staff Writer

The longtime chairman of the ultranationalist group Zaitokukai has announced he will step down and even give up his membership in the group, saying the move will eventually bolster the organization’s influence.

Makoto Sakurai, whose real name is Makoto Takada, said during a program streamed online on Tuesday that he has decided not to run in Zaitokukai’s biennial leadership election, which is currently underway. He has been chairman of the group for eight years.

His successor, Sakurai said, will likely be Yasuhiro Yagi, who is currently the group’s deputy chairman and the only candidate running in the election.

Sakurai said his tenure will end Nov. 30, at which point he will dissociate himself from the group altogether so “Yagi-san can do his job without having to worry about me.”

How his resignation will affect future activities of the group, which is often associated with racist remarks including death threats against ethnic Koreans in Japan, remains to be seen. But in a blog post dated Wednesday, Sakurai said he hopes the change in leadership will enable the group to enter a new phase and increase its presence in society.

“I’m really proud that I have been able to be at its top” as the far-right Zaitokukai has evolved into “the most influential group ever in Japan’s (social) campaign history,” he claimed in the blog post.

“I think it’s time for the group to advance to the next step, which is to wield its (growing) influence to take on a full-fledged social revolution. I hope Zaitokukai under (Yagi’s) leadership will carry out that responsibility.”

Sakurai wasn’t immediately available for comment.

He said on the Internet program that after officially leaving the group, he will remain true to his conservative ideology, and participate in future Zaitokukai events in a private capacity whenever possible. If the group asks, he will even consider appearing as a guest speaker, he said.

Zaitokukai, which claims on its website to have 15,000 members, decries what it calls the “privileges” of Japan’s ethnic Koreans and their descendants, particularly their special permanent residency status. The group frequently stages vitriolic rallies in Korean neighborhoods such as Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo.

In what was widely viewed as a political embarrassment for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, recently appointed Cabinet minister Eriko Yamatani was found in September to have been photographed alongside several senior Zaitokukai members in 2009.

Sakurai, who is known for his provocative style, grabbed headlines last month when he went on a hostile rant against Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto during what was supposed to be a constructive debate on hate speech, even gesturing in a threatening manner only a minute into the event.

  • Perry Constantine

    If only we could get the rest of the Japanese KKK to step down.

  • Squidhead

    Everytime I hear these guys scream into their blowhorns I know free speech is still alive in Japan.

  • Kunimitsu Hayashibara

    This is not a hate group, lots of problem are caused by the foreigner.
    and asking country for help have nothing to do with this, helping other country is only to entertain a good image and a good relationship and so on with other country.
    Don’t always consider nationalist as racist, i think you should be a bit more opened to politics idea.

  • C20

    Like your comment but why do you have a name “Foreign Fool”?

  • Kunimitsu Hayashibara

    You don’t seem to consider asian as foreigner too, because if we consider that you will see that most of the crime are committed by foreigner and most of the yakuza are korean.

    It is normal to do that specially when we are angry, Japan belong to first of all the Yamato race i mean to Japanese who are ethnically Japanese.

    And of course we are all human if there were a war in Korea we would open the border to protect them only the time the war stop and then send them back.

  • Guest

    You are wrong i once saw a manifestation of the Zaitokukai and there was one black people and there was a few white too some of them were holding the Japanese flag so you can’t say they are a racist group it would not make any sence

  • Kunimitsu Hayashibara

    You are wrong i once saw a manifestation of the Zaitokukai and there was one black people and there was a few white too some of them were holding the Japanese flag so you can’t say they are a racist group it would not make any sense

  • Kunimitsu Hayashibara

    I don’t consider people having other ancestor’s culture as part of Japanese that’s all can’t you understand this?

    they were angry and did not think about the possibility that they were Japanese

    it’s obvious to assume that someone is not Japanese if he is white

    Nope of them are real Japanese can’t you understand who real Japanese are?

    Japanese were all real japanese for so long that it is part of our culture and by becoming japanese other race destroy that culture.

    If you really are Japanese inside then you should know that you should not become Japanese.

  • Just me

    because she’s a 19-year-old kid who thinks she knows everything like most teenagers think they do (read the comments above and you’ll see where she tells me her age), but I agree with your point.

  • Minxy Minamoto

    I would like to thank all of the commenters who politely and firmly rejected the chauvinism and racism displayed most passionately by Kunimitsu Hayashibara. It’s interesting that all of her comments have now been deleted. Perhaps, it was just a troll.

  • http://Yahoo.net/ Bulldogpete

    I am an American. I lived in Japan for 8 years, 4 in Akita, I in Nagano, 2 in Tokyo suburb. I can’t recall the name of the other place. The only complaint that I have is that I became an alcoholic. We Americans who are a mixed bunch whose ancestors come from elsewhere, treat our undocumented and document neighbors from the South worse than the Japanese do the Koreans. We have more people in prison that the entire rest of the world. One out of 7 citizens is addicted to drugs. On the average we are more obese. Yes, these are official figures. We are considered warmongers by those throughout the world. We killed three and a half million Vietnamese and I have no idea how many thousands of Middle Easteners. Our predator drones go wherever they please killing innocent people – Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, etc. Who are we to speak. A World War II Marine Corps Veteran.