Out of Japan: Xenophobia rides on anti-Semitic tide - World - News - The Independent

Out of Japan: Xenophobia rides on anti-Semitic tide

TOKYO - Yakir Lapiner, the guard at the Jewish Centre, called the children indoors and bolted the doors. Thugs had arrived in a large lorry adorned with swastikas and were blaring anti-Semitic propaganda from loudspeakers.

They stood for a while in front of the building, brandishing baseball bats 'as if they wanted to do something', said Mr Lapiner. Then the police arrived and the thugs drove away.

This did not take place in a ghetto in Eastern Europe in the 1930s, but in central Tokyo two months ago. It had happened several times before: usually on Hitler's birthday.

The Jewish Centre has a synagogue, a kindergarten, some offices and a bagel bakery. 'They were saying something about the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world,' said Mr Lapiner. 'After leaving us, they drove on to the Israeli Embassy.'

Japan does not seem an obvious breeding ground for anti- Semitism: there are at most 2,000 Jews living in the country, and few Japanese would be able to distinguish them from other Westerners in their midst. But although there have not yet been any physical attacks on Jews in Japan, several Jewish friends have spoken nervously about anti-Semitic demonstrations by extreme nationalists, and the appearance of a spate of anti-Semitic books blaming a Jewish conspiracy for Japan's recession.

Last week an advertisement for four anti-Semitic books appeared prominently in Yomiuri, the largest daily newspaper in Japan. Some of the books verge on the absurd: one, Rockefeller versus Rothschild, purports to explain how Zionists and big American capitalists are competing to destroy Japan, and how Jews plotted the Tiananmen Square massacre. But the fact they were advertised in a mainstream newspaper was enough to make the local rabbi, James Lebeau, send out cautionary notes to his community.

Japan has harboured theories of its racial homogeneity and uniqueness for generations, and xenophobia rides high at many levels of society. Anyone who is in some way different can face racial prejudice in this highly self-aware and inward-looking society.

With their small numbers, it is not the physical presence of Jews that incites extremists. Most of the anti-Semitic material published deals with a fuzzy notion of international Jewish financial power, not with the Jews living in Japan. It is a strange form of anti-Semitism. In some ways the Japanese look up to the supposed power of the Jewish 'financial clique'.

Some of the books simply promise to make the reader rich 'by buying the same stocks as Jews buy'.

Other publications which are freely available are more sensational.

Lucifer's Last Conspiracy, by Izumi Koishi, explains how half of humanity will be killed by 1999 and the Japanese will be made into slaves. The Rothschild Family: The Devil's Canon of the World Financial Clique, by Akira Kagami, continues the diatribe against the Rothschild family and its designs on Japan. The Jews are sneaking into Japan - what are the plans of those terrifying devils?, by Ushiyama Kaichi, begins with 'proof' that the Holocaust never happened, and then proceeds to lay out how Japan has been forced to resist Jewish domination for 2,000 years.

'The Jews serve as a rallying-point for Japanese nationalists' fears of foreigners,' said Mark Schreiber, a writer who has been keeping a record of anti-Semitic publications in Japan. He concedes that many of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are concocted to make money, and are made to sound sensational. But, he says: 'If enough of this hate material is generated, some of these people will snap.'

There are no laws against publishing or promoting overtly racist material in Japan, but the government is occasionally embarrassed into taking some action.

Last year Yoshiji Nogami, a Foreign Ministry official, wrote an article for Yomiuri criticising the anti-Jewish publications. He wrote: 'The open sales -and reading - of prejudice-filled low-brow anti- Jewish publications testify to the ignorance of the Japanese people. It is a disgrace.'

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week