Tokyo Damage Report

mayday / constitution day demos.


May first was May Day, an international workers’ holiday. Myself, I’m a lazy bum whose hands are as un-callused as the pirenium of a newborn, but I went anyway. I didn’t really know where the May Day demo was scheduled, so I just looked for plainclothes police:



Once I spotted them (and thus the demo) it was kind of hard to miss. This demo was organized by Matsumoto (who ran for Mayor of Kouenji a few years ago). It was a strange demo – no chants, no banners or flags, no uyoku counter-protesters. My take on it was that – despite all the speeches about the lack of a safety net for part-timers and temps – this was more a battle for the future of Kouenji, a statement against chain stores, and a general declaration that Kouenji is still the kind of neighborhood where people can be freaks. That is to say, this was such a assemblage of Kouenji losers, burnouts, and space-cadets, I don’t think they could all chant at the same time even if they agreed on anything, which they didn’t. People were dressed as anime characters, hamsters, skeletons, ninjas. . . Basically, it was more like an OMIKOSHI おみこし(one of those neighborhood street festivals where the local shrine is carried on the backs of the ‘hood grandpas) then a protest march. The only difference was that at an OMIKOSHI there is not 100 cops: but even the cops looked disappointed, like “Overtime is all well and good, but this isn’t a proper protest! Tsk, tsk, it’s all wrong!”
There were even “secret agent” cops writing things in memo-pads, all Columbo-stylee. I can’t even imagine what they were writing: “Band is out of tune. Guitarist’s free-form jazz solo is getting boring around 4 minutes. Salaryman armed with glow-stick is having trouble opening 5th beer. Man dressed as extra from Swan Lake is using a spoon and coffee cup as drum! (possibly signal to snipers in high-rises?)”






One guy – dressed in drag, who spent most of the speech balanced on top of a soccer ball – lost control of his ball during the march. It bounced into the other side of the street. The police ran into the lane of opposing traffic to retrieve it. That was amazing. It made me think that being at a revolutionary protest is a little like being a talento or pop idol in Japan – the authorities surround you and provide every possible service; one-stop shopping from beginning to end, with the price being that you don’t get to actually deviate from the script or make any choices ever. After all, you’re being swaddled and having your every need taken into account, so what more could you possibly ask for?







Two days later, I went to another, bigger demo. This was billed as a May Day Anarchy event, but it was ALSO the anniversary of Japan’s post-war constitution (May 3d). The constitution is hella controversial because it was forced on Japan by MacArthur (of course, it’s nothing near as bad as the laws forced by Imperial Japan on the Asian countries THEY occupied during WWII, but for some reason this comparison is never made. After all, what’s past is past, right? (unless the Prime Minister needs to go to Yasukuni!)). Anyway both sides turn out for every Constitution Day (健保記念日)(kenpo kinen hi),and every year they both say the same shit:
RIGHTISTS: We’re not occupied by America anymore!we’re the #2 richest country on the planet, isn’t it time we wrote our own constitution? Especially get rid of Article 9 (which says that Japan can’t have an offensive army).
LEFTISTS: It’s because of militaristic, right-wing douchelords like you that we got conquered by America in the first place! You got us into a war where everyone fuckin’ died, and you ain’t even learned anything from it! You already had your shot, and everyone knows how that shit turned out.




Anyway, Japan being Japan, the left-wing demo was held in a tiny, out-of-the-way park with more pigeons than people. The right-wing demo was right in front of the (second) busiest train station in the planet: hachiko exit of Shibuya station, tourist central. This made for a rad sight, as the ‘patriots’ stood under a flag which read ‘expel the foreigners fighting squad’ and heckled all the tourists.




These 3 tourists (at left, hugging) asked the right-wing guy (right) to take their picture. twice. And he did it!

Those 3 foreigners are either the most genius gaijin ever, or the stupidest, or maybe both. I could never have pulled that shit off.

ABOVE: At one point, some thuggy grandpa type in a track-suit came by and was yelling back at the uyoku guy, but suddenly a dude in an Agent Smith-type suit came by and whisked grandpa away. Was he a cop? An undercover rightist? Who knows? Either way, that’s fucked up. The one guy gets a huge megaphone truck and talks for an hour, and the un-connected guy can’t even talk back for 5 seconds? Especially considering that when the left-wingers come by, the uyoku not only interrupt them, they try to beat ‘em up and scream for hours through their little tin horns. Talk about dish-it-out-but-can’t-take-it.



While we were listening to the uyoku guys do their thing (North Korea, Japanese police’s use of GPS, the constitution, and – improbably- a good 5 minute rant on the North Korean website’s URL), an old man came up to us and started talking an amazing amount of shit. It turns out, the guy is famous for accosting white guys in public: I got the Hideo Asano treatment. Asano is one of those dudes where you don’t ‘meet’ him so much as ‘experience’ him. Our conversation –I subsequently obtained the secret recordings from both the CIA and the Jewish Conspiracy – went exactly like this:
ASANO: You know what he’s saying? (points to the uyoku guy)
ME: I think I get the idea!
ASANO: He’s saying that Japan’s constitution was written by MacArthur. We’re a real country, so we deserve our own constitution!
ME: All-righty!
ASANO: (still getting warmed up) Western culture needs to leave from Japan. Nothing good ever came from it. Western culture is harm! Harm!
ME: But you’re holding a book by Nietzche. In English!
ASANO: (without missing a beat) He’s a philosopher. Philosophy is universal! Also, he’s Polish. He’s not an anglo-saxon. Anglo-saxons are very arrogant. They spit on me when I went to their country. How would you like that if it happened to you?
ME: (Chico Marx accent) That’s-a no-good, boss!
ASANO: You westerners need to take your TV and movies and leave Japan.
ME: You mean, the “Three ‘S’s?”
NATE: (surprised to get souped on politics) What?
ME: The three ‘S’s! that America brought to corrupt Japan after the war.
ASANO: Sex, Sports, and Screen (movies).
ME: Now we’re talkin’!
ASANO: Also, you should stop dating our women!
ME: Oh no he di’int!
ASANO: Too many Japanese girl is dating foreigner – it’s upsetting our ecosystem. Japanese girl is our property! We need them to make the next generation.
ME: Don’t be shy, now!
ASANO: Western women never date western men in Japan – they know all about you guys! Japanese women doesn’t know. Don’t upset our ecosystem!
ME: So, Japan’s been having a lot of problems with temp workers getting laid off, and having no ‘social safety net’ for them. What is your solution?
ASANO: That is an internal matter, of no concern to you.
ME: Yeah, but you seem to be really into Japan politics, so –
ASANO: Do you know the Lincoln Memorial?
ME: Whiplash! Didn’t see that one coming.
ASANO: . . .
ME: Yes, yes I do know the Lincoln Memorial.
ASANO:I think that’s very bad. Very arrogant. A big white man sitting there. Gets a monument for freeing slaves. How can one man say to another, “You’re free! I free you!”??
ME: OK, now you’re making sense!
ASANO: Also, he was killed by the Five Jewish Brothers.
ME: . . .Or not!
ASANO: It’s true. The assassination had nothing to do with slavery. Lincoln wanted to abolish the banking system so he was shot. He didn’t want to pay interest on loans to Jewish banks used to finance the civil war.
ME: And this has to do with Japan’s constitution, how?
ASANO: Kennedy? Same thing!
ME: OK, I give up.
ASANO: Please, don’t date Japanese women! Take your violent western culture and go home. Also, please buy my book of haiku.
ME: Wha??? Huh???? Guh? How much?
ASANO: 200 yen.
ME: Oh hell yes!
ASANO: here you go.
ME: One last question: what do you think of Torihada Minoru?
My favorite thing about the whole episode was how he started off like a regular uyoku, someone who often went to these rallies, but then gradually by degrees got weirder and weirder. Eventually I concluded holmes was NOT a right-winger, but a dude who went to Europe back in the hippy days, took too much LSD, and had a bad trip about the whole thing. Also, his haiku? It’s in English!



Below: Karin Amamiya gives a speech to 5 people.

below: 3 layers! cops in front, sayoku in the middle, and on the far bridge, narcs!

above: a dummy skeleton of Prime Minister Aso!


Anyway, eventually we tore ourselves away from Mr. Asano’s demagogic kung-fu grip and hurtled over the the Left-wing demo – unlike the rightists, the lefties had a permit to march, so they circled downtown Shibuya a couple of times. Thanks to the million police (who didn’t even bother to put on riot gear – they had ties. Ties! That should give you some idea) there was nothing interesting about the demo. Actually one thing.
What was surprising to me was that the marchers DID NOT TRY AT ALL TO INTERACT WITH THE PEOPLE ON THE SIDEWALK. Usually marchers take one of two attitudes: they either try to convert non-marchers (think Gay Pride parade), or they try to disrupt the non-marchers (How can you pigs go to work while Children Are Dying???!?)But this bunch, they deliberately got a permit to march in one of the busiest parts of town, on a Sunday, and then ignored the crowd. Shit was pretty aloof, even by Japanese standards.





After awhile, the lefty parade finally reached the spot where the uyoku were parked, and (inevitably) some attention-starved patriots tried to run around the police and confront the lefties. The police just sighed and corralled those guys – it was like a game of touch football. I think if the cops actually let the righties run right into the lefties, they’d have no idea what to do. I don’t even think there would be violence. It would be awkward, though. Anyway, it turns out that the major demo was at Hibya. The lefties and the righties in Shibuya were kind of the leftover people who didn’t get invited to the grown-up party and had to sit at the kids’ table with sippy cups.



13 comments Tags: , , ,

13 Comments so far

  1. Brian May 18th, 2009 6:31 am

    I knew I recognized that guy. I met Asano in Ueno Park like 3 years ago, and he had this whole story about how the authorities at American customs stole his hella expensive pen one time.

  2. fake May 18th, 2009 12:02 pm

    omg giant bold text everywhere! My favorite quote from this article: “Don’t upset our ecosystem!”

  3. admin May 18th, 2009 6:28 pm

    I believe it.
    He needs to do a Point/Counterpoint with Declan Hayes(author of JAPANESE DISEASE). How rad would that be? (hella).
    Anybody read Japanese Disease?

  4. Allecto May 18th, 2009 11:31 pm

    @ Admin

    I thumbed through a copy at the used bookstore, trying to figure out if it was a parody of the arrogant-white-dude-reveals-secrets-of-the-orient genre or what.

    Having them meet irl would be funny, but what I’d really like to do is get them together in the pages of a hand-drawn yaoi comic and send them each a copy. Make love, not war, man.

  5. John May 19th, 2009 3:10 am

    憲法記念日, not 健保. 健保 is health insurance.

  6. Pierre-Juan May 19th, 2009 7:50 pm

    I’ve read half of Japanase Desease by Hayes and it is a stunning book.

  7. François May 20th, 2009 7:12 pm

    I like the guy with a sign that reads “天皇制、クソクラエ”
    Emperor’s rule, eat shit !
    Bet the wannabe tough boys in military drags liked that.

  8. Ray May 22nd, 2009 5:50 am

    Hey you liberal shitbag,

    You ever tried getting english lessons or taking a debating class? Do you think your cool because you cuss? Are you like 13 years old? Or are you some sort of pussy-ass college boy who dosen’t know the first thing about Military-life or serving. Seems like the same shit that comes out of your ass is the same thing coming out of your fucking mouth college-boy. Get a fucking life. Italy deployed in beiruit during the early 80’s. Germany deployed several times during her revival after WWII. You dont see Israel getting all bitchy. German soldiers have sent combat-components into Iraq and Afghanistan. You dont see jew’s getting bitchy. In fact NATO took in Germany to counter Russia. THATS why Japan is not armed, because there was no need for a pan-asian alliance of the same sort. Germany was essentially forced to ally with former enemies. As for Chinese babies. Yeah the U.S. has killed it’s share before, But we are still armed. And we still fight. So your argument is bullshit there college boy. Japan needs to re-arm. A country that dosent respect its wardead (Yasukuni) and relies on other countries for defense while it becomes influential is not worth it’s salt. The Economic miracle was fake. Japan needs to grow up and re-arm. Plenty of fucking nations have gone to war and become aggressive. yet people have gone on in life. Yes, japan needs to apologies, and Fully arm itself. You my college-boy friend, need to get out and see the world. Stay in Tokyo in your little bubble, and you believe Japan is nothing but anime and all that other bullshit you college-boys like. you think that. It’s not what the real japan is. btw i’ll fucking take a bat upside your head if you talked to me that way.

  9. Ray May 22nd, 2009 5:57 am

    that’s the shit, for your little spew about Japanese rearmament. Fuck you college boys in japan. I’m glad i saw the country through Military. the next time im out there. ill look for white-boy or english speaking asian punks in akihabara or tokyo. with a baseball bat.

  10. David C. Ahfuggetaboutit May 22nd, 2009 1:52 pm

    Good grief, Ray. You bitch at college students yet your English and debating skills are atrocious. Not exactly arguing with your strengths there, unless your strengths are just what comes from holding a baseball bat. What exactly is wrong with pretending to NOT have a military (Japan’s SDF), allowing all sorts of American bases (for which we pay them rent, our soldiers spend lotsa money there, thus stimulating local economy), and then screaming “Japan FIRST” like some ungrateful bastard? It keeps the xenophobic types quiet (well, quieter), and wins you points with the people. No politician is EVER going to give up free money, not even for votes.
    Jews don’t get bitchy? Not ever? Not even a little bit? You clearly haven’t spent enough time in Israel.
    As for “Sex, Sports, and Screen”… Most of my porn is Japanese (American porn is downright boring in comparison), they would have obsessed over golf ANYWAYS (like they do everything else), and the only thing Hollywood has over Japan’s film industry is budget.

  11. Steve May 29th, 2009 6:03 pm

    Nice post, I want to know what sort of ruckus the guy in the yellow jumpsuit was trying to start.

    Sorry that not many people read your posts. Tons of people come to the site, but I don’t think many people actually read it.

  12. Flora April 5th, 2010 10:41 am

    I read it!  It was very entertaining to! 
    I want to see some of dude's haikus!  More about the Japanese ecosystem from the rabid reader of Nietschze, pls!!!

  13. kichigai gaigin April 13th, 2012 11:20 am

    Sir you are epic.

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