OSAKA – Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto met with the head of an anti-Korean group Monday as he considers cracking down on hate speech rallies in the city, but they ended up having a shouting match in which they more or less just insulted each other.
The meeting with Makoto Sakurai, who heads the group commonly known as Zaitokukai, at City Hall was tense from the beginning, with both men calling each other names.
Sitting 3 meters apart, the two came close to a scuffle at one point before people around them intervened. The meeting, which was open to the media, last just 10 minutes, far shorter than originally planned.
During the meeting, Hashimoto said: “Don’t make statements looking at ethnic groups and nationalities as if they are all the same. In Osaka, we don’t need guys like you who are racists.”
The meeting took place at the request of Zaitokukai, which describes itself as a group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for Korean residents of Japan.
In a ruling in July, the Osaka High Court determined that rallies staged by the group near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school amounted to racial discrimination.
Lee Sin Hae, a journalist and Korean resident of Japan, said after watching the face-off between Hashimoto and Sakurai that she didn’t want people to get the impression that there is no difference between the two just because they both resorted to using abusive language.
“Zaitokukai is still campaigning in the streets. I want the mayor to actually go to places to see that terrible things are happening,” said Lee, who is suing Zaitokukai over online abuse.