Last week I ended this column by noting that Myanmar (also known as Burma) can ill afford bigotry and intolerance. Neither can Japan. The outpouring here of hate speech targeting ethnic Korean residents is a disturbing development even if it is not representative. And certainly, it is encouraging that these xenophobic sentiments have sparked a backlash among Japanese.

The Shin-Okubo district of central Tokyo, until recently known as a cosmopolitan hub of the Korean pop-culture boom and long an enclave of diversity, has suddenly been thrust into the front line of jingoism as nationalist rightwingers have marched through its streets over the past several months carrying ominous placards calling for "Death to Koreans."

This is the city that has just been awarded the 2020 Olympics?