Losing (it)

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.

10 thoughts on “Losing (it)

  1. hahaha, i love the fact that, knowing you, i can s e e everything you describe happening. this post has a strangely hallucinogenic quality for me. enjoyed this experience very much. on the subject of merely giving this cretin’s idiocy fuel, you’re probably right of course. it’s this very reason that some years ago stopped me accosting religious types preaching in public. persecution is what they thrive on.

    • yep. the temporary buzz just isn’t worth the long term damage.

      i was a second away from knock the microphone out of his hand when masumi yelled at me. probably would have landed me in jail for a few weeks…

      if only he’d been wearing a hat, eh?

    • really do need to learn those lines in japanese for such occasions. no doubt it would make quite the impact.

  2. As you rightly point out nothing we say or do is going to make any difference in this country, so I say don’t worry that he may use your actions to add more fuel to his racist bigotted fire.
    Fuck him and all of them like him, If our so called japanese “friends” had any dangly bits they’d be standing up for us……
    Not something I’ve ever seen happen.
    Because then, then we could really see some change, if Japanese people were telling him to shut up he might actually stop for a second and think……
    or maybe Im really living in a cloud cookoo land where when they start rounding us up and putting us in camps everyone’s not going to pretend they are looking at the mobile phones.

    • i’m tempted to get with that kind of attitude, but every time i’ve done so in the past it has just dragged me into a pit of despair and fucked me in the arse…

      the compromise is to attempt to fool myself that i can always rise above, which works just dandy, right up to the point where it doesn’t. recently the periods of clearly expressed hatred and inaction, have out numbered the murderous urges.

      there has been periods of violent protest in japan (sixties student demos) but it looks like this generation has had it beaten out of them with soft cushions (and diabolical education… we’ve all read the book).

  3. Really sad, I feel sorry for this kind of people. But at the same time, I can feel how you enjoyed this encounter face to face, ’cause this person don’t want foreigners to vote at all (banner says: against foreigner voting rights), no debate, no analysis… so.. I imagine the expression of your face like “You asked for it, you got it!”.

    I hope you understand my comment correctly, this kind of topics are hard to explain in my engrish.

    • Assuming that everything continues as expected, it looks like this issue will be moot by the summer:

      The Hatoyama government on Monday decided to submit to the ordinary Diet session that opens Jan. 18 a bill that would allow permanent foreign residents to vote in local elections.


      Which is no doubt why the idiots were out in force over the weekend. As always, my timing is impeccable!

  4. A few weeks ago the papers were reporting that Hatoyama had put the voting rights for foreign residents bill on ice indefinately. Who knows what will happen? I went to a demo for the same subject outside Shibuya a few weeks ago, lots of ignorant people that call themselves patriots but are really just racist, especially against the Chinese and Koreans who live, contribute and call this country home. That they care to get out, however ill informed, does show that some here do have a political pulse though. I have contacts with a radical left wing union group who are a throw back to the sixties and seventies: their manifesto calls for the violent overthrow of the capitalist system in this country for example. Yet whenever I meet the press officer guy, who tells me all about what they are doing, it is always in MacDonalds in Shibuya. A little taken aback at this (I almost never visit one of those places otherwise) I asked him how a card-carrying Marxist and anti-capitalist could set foot in Macs and he answered, without irony, that the coffee was cheap!
    How can this country get itself sorted when people are not sure what they think; what they should think and cannot get the information they need to form an opinion? If they can be arsed to think at all.

Wise words...

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