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Far-Right Japan First Party Seeks Electoral Breakthrough in Japan

A far-right candidate in Japan’s local elections has called for the severing of all ties with South Korea as Japan First seek to use the campaign as a platform to make an electoral breakthrough.

A demonstration by Zaitokukai against Koreans in Japan took place in Tokyo. A woman carries a placard written “Koreans should be massacred” | Kurashita Yuki

Sasami Horikiri, who openly engaged in anti-Korean hate speech while holding the divisive “rising sun” flag, said that the trash problem in the Shinokubo region of Tokyo is caused by Koreans and attracts rats. A female Japan First supporter also accuses Korea of blasphemy against the Japanese emperor. Other videos from Horikiri show the candidate stating that he is “capable of fighting South Korea.”

Horikiri is seeking to be elected in the Shinjuku City Assembly in Tokyo as campaigns get underway to elect 86 mayors, 294 city assemblies, 11 ward heads and 20 ward assemblies. Japan First currently has no seats in parliament or local legislatures but have a large public profile through their regular public rallies and calls for violence against Japan’s Korean minority.

“I will run for office to relentlessly fight South Korea”

Sasami Horikiri

Japan First, who espouse ultra-nationalist​, militarist and monarchist policies are noted for their anti-Korean rhetoric. The party was founded in 2016 by Makoto Sakurai, the former leader of the far-right nationalist group Zaitokukai, a group comparable in many ways to the likes of Britain First. Zaitokukai means “Citizens’ Group against privileges for foreigners in Japan”.

Originally “joking” that he was going to name the party as the “Tokyo Terrorist Party”, Sakurai chose the name Japan First, presumably inspired by the likes of Britain First and Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric.

“South Korea is a rare country that one hates more the more they learn about it”

Makoto Sakurai

Policies of Japan First include abolishing welfare for foreigners, rewriting of the Japanese constitution from scratch to return to having the Emperor as the head of state, installing a military, and making defense of the country a civic duty.

The rise in rhetoric against Korean immigration in Japan comes as Japan and South Korea are seeking to improve ties between the nations ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka.

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