Voices | HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO

Abe and his ministers give anti-foreigner rallies tacit green light

To the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:

I read with sadness The Japan Times of July 11. In it, an article (“Politicians silent on curbing hate speech” by Eric Johnston) spoke of the demonstrations taking place, largely in Osaka and Tokyo, which demonize foreign residents in Japan [and in particular Koreans] and openly speak of their murder.

However, my sadness turned to alarm when I read of the middling, noncommittal response of the ministers of your government.

You, Mr. Abe, are quoted as calling these demonstrations “regrettable” but you are apparently content to “leave this matter to the good conscience of the average Japanese.”

Please, just for a moment, imagine your families — your mothers and sisters, your husbands and sons — living abroad in a country where crowds gathered and spoke proudly of the necessity of their murder — where ghoulish mobs of fanatics joined together in condemning them not for what they had done but for who they were.

Would you not expect the government of that nation to protect them? And would you not also claim that any failure on their part to do so represents a dereliction of their duty to protect all of the people under their care, from tourists there for a matter of days through to third-generation residents?

As history has shown us, when your tribalism becomes so exaggerated and your concern for the “other” so shriveled that openly calling for their murder in the streets is an event that merits hardly any comment, then the rope holding our collective humanity aloft appears very thin indeed.

Is your intellect so malnourished or your morality so brutalized that you can view the public advocacy of murder, and murder based on race, as an event deserving of anything other than the most unequivocal condemnation?

Though I love Japan, my ancestry, cultural heritage and appearance makes me different. But does not my desire to live a happy life, to love my wife, to raise healthy children, to seek beauty and friendship in the world around me, do all of these things not make me exactly the same as you?

These ideas represent the core of human dignity, the thread that binds us all. I would have thought that these bonds would have compelled you to categorically condemn the outrages inflicted upon them in Tokyo and Osaka.

That none of you did represents either unconscionable callousness or the most obscene brand of cynicism. You should be ashamed.

M.H.
Chiba

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