There we were doing a little shopping when we stumbled across the usual blather outside a station. It was only when i read a banner 「外国人参政権反対」(against foreigner voting rights) that the mist descended.
Now, frankly, i’ve never been a big fan of democracy. Foreign permanent residents in Japan make up roughly 1% of the population. By all measures, our input is meaningless, and at best it is a gesture to even begin to care.
In theory, i shouldn’t really give a damn whether i’m given a vote or not. Yet, when faced with a bunch of middle-aged, vitriol spewing, politicians, it’s too much to ask for me not to have a go…
First i took one of their leaflets (which i was given reluctantly), looked at it for a few second, and then tossed back, with a dismissive, “don’t suppose i want that…” Then, letting go of Masumi’s hand, strode up to the main speaker, with his white gloves and microphones, stopping about 50cm from his face. My arrival ‘in his face’ was rather sudden, which prompted him to stop talking, and look like he might lose control of his bowels. A few seconds of uncomfortable silence were ended by Masumi yelling “Stop it!” at me. At which point i laughed in his face and walked off.
As we walked off he was demanding that Masumi talk to him in Japanese. If you only speak japanese how can you not think everything you don’t understand is directed at you?
I’m well aware that the right in Japan sees this issue as a nationalist / popularist vote winner. And, the only likely outcome of my temporary loss of control is to give this political parasite more courage in his convictions, “those foreigners have no respect for the Japanese way of expressing opinions!” I can hear him saying it to his cronies over a beer at the local hostess bar…
The reality is that nobody was listening to his blather outside the station – nobody cared… except me, and all i’ve done is add fuel to his rhetorical fire. Shame on me. Even worse, i didn’t even get to enjoy making him feel threatened for more than a few seconds.