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Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Korean School in Kyoto Attacked by Xenophobic Groups

On December 4, 20o9, a Korean school in Kyoto was attacked by members of xenophobic groups.

Youtube video with English subtitles:

"Zaitokukai," the same group as one that sabotaged the exhibit on the "comfort women" issue in Mitaka this summer, is involved with this incident.

See the Kyodo News report below.

I feel enraged to find out such racist acts are being tolerated and not reported widely enough in my country of origin. Can you imagine, if something like this happened in Canada or in the US, what the consequences would be?

Here is the link to the Japan Today news.

They may cut the link soon, so I pasted the whole news below.

(Kyodo News)
> A group of around 10 men yelled ‘‘children of spies’’ through a bullhorn at the main gate of a Korean elementary school in the city of Kyoto earlier this month, sources with knowledge of the matter said Friday. Around 170 children were at the school at the time. Regarding the act as a hate crime, the school will file a criminal complaint against the men with the Kyoto prefectural police next week, the sources said.
> As the school was keeping some of its equipment in a municipal government-controlled park in front of its building, the group went to protest against ‘‘the illegal occupation,’’ according to its leader, Makoto Sakurai.
> Since the school does not have a schoolyard, it uses the park for gym classes. While the municipal government has allowed the school to use the park, the school and neighboring residents were expected to discuss the matter early next year.
> Video footage shot by the school showed some of the men carrying the equipment and asking school officials to open the gate. The officials told the men, ‘‘This is a school,’’ but they yelled, ‘‘This is not a school,’’ and, ‘‘Let’s push Korean schools out of Japan.’’

It is never comfortable for me to dislose these shameful acts happening in my country of origin, but I still do this, because these people need to know they cannot get away with what they are doing and that the international community is watching.


  1. 何とも悲しく、腹立たしい事件でしょうか。

  2. お元気で活躍のことと思います。さ

  3. Thank you for informing us about this issue. This kind of coward behavior should not be tolerated.

  4. Watching the Youtube video made me cry.
    Once again I'm reminded of many stories of the Japanese racism and brutalities against Koreans for many decades. Especially, I think of those Koreans who were forcibly taken to Japan for labor during WW II and couldn't return home.I heard some horrible stories what happened to them and their children. In some cases, they were brutally massacred or murdered. And many of their children tried to hide their
    Korean identity, not because they were ashamed but frightened.
    While I'm outraged and distressed that such shameful acts of racism
    still go on in Japan, I am still hopeful because of those Japanese
    people such as you and your colleagues in Japan and abroad who continue striving to change the world.

  5. Anonymous3:20 am

    I think because you are so conscientious and live in Vancouver
    which is a relatively liberal place--although white supremacists
    (neo-Nazis, Skinheads) live there as well as in Seattle and Portland.
    After all, the Pacific Northwest is one of the major areas where
    Japanese North Americans were driven out and imprisoned (as well
    as Chinese North Americans--as Jean Pfaelzer has written about in
    her great book: "Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese
    Americans." (

    I think because you grew up in Japan, your field of vision is able
    to see a widespread perspective in Japan that tolerates hate. However,
    because you have not lived throughout North America, you don't as
    readily see the equally hate-tolerant widespread perspectives
    in N. America. I have lived throughout the US and have been shocked
    repeatedly by
    widespread and common racism - especially against Native Americans,
    and immigrants of Mexican, Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian, East
    Asian heritage, as well as ongoing discrimination against African
    Americans who are not from elite backgrounds.

    There is widespread tolerance of racism on talk radio, FOX and CNN,
    especially towards Mexican and Latino immigrants). In Japan, you
    see this kind of inflammatory racism on Channel 2, but not on NHK,
    which is liberal, educated, and high-minded--even if it has submitted
    to censorship in highly publicized instances.

    Racism in North America is worse than in Japan. While the
    mentally disturbed right-wingers yelled at elementary school children
    in Kyoto, in the US there have been violent attacks
    on school children. It was only a forty decades ago that American
    Ku Klux Klan members bombed and lynched African
    American schoolchildren. I hear about verbal assaults on children
    of color happening frequently in the US today. A postal clerk called
    a friend's son a "monkey," in the same way Republicans have
    created cartoons of Obama recently.

    Just a few years ago, there was a television show in that came
    from the UK to the US where Japanese people were made to look
    buck-toothed, squinty-eyed, and stupid. This is a common caricature
    of Asians in the UK and North America. And I can't even go near
    European racism which is deep-rooted and the source of North
    American and other imperialistic forms of colonial racism. We should
    not forget that it was only decades ago that Australians and North
    Americans removed aboriginal children from their homes to be schooled
    as "whites"--in physically, sexually, emotionally, as well as culturally
    violent environments. The last Canadian "residential school" only
    closed in 1996!

    With this comparative background, I am not excusing the right-wing
    attack in Kyoto.

    It's grotesque and bizarre. But I don't think it compares with the
    systematic abuse of children of color and ongoing discrimination in
    North America.

    To deal with them, I suggest compassion and empathy that that would
    be so mentally and emotionally sick (similarly to North American
    white supremacist culture), that they would target children. That is
    the opposite
    of what they expect -- it's what Dr. King did with the white people
    in Chicago who spit on him, threw rocks at him, and what thousands
    of Civil Rights marchers did to the white supremacists in the American
    South who lynched them, burned their churches, and bombed their

    It's important to send out love towards their hate, while condemning
    acts, and expressing attention towards all the wonderful Japanese
    who watch Korean television, eat Korean food, marry Koreans, and
    try to express normal humanity in everyday terms. There are plenty
    of healthy, good, decent Japanese people -- just as there are in the
    UK, Europe,
    and North America despite their sick, racist histories -- and we need
    to put on spotlight on these healthy people of good will if we want
    to amplify and support their agency in our world.

  6. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and for educating me with your wide-ranging knowledge of racism in North America. I think it makes sense that I see Japan as a more hate-tolerant society than North America because I know Japan better than I know North America. I also appreciate your introduction of compassionate approach to hate. I know people who hate, people who commit crimes are deprived of love. This is the kind of message I got from this film Power of Forgiveness. While the wrong deed should be prosecuted and the perpetrator should be held responsible, love and forgiveness can be granted at the same time. Justice and forgiveness can go hand-in-hand. It is easier said than done. How do we approach these zaitokukai people with love and compassion? I will keep that question in mind while I travel... thank you again.

  7. There will be an Emergency meeting in Kyoto to protest against the Zaitokukais' action and the police ambivalence. Information in Japanese here:

    In English here:
    and here: