Who knew? Hate speech is everywhere: Countering Hate Speech in Tokyo’s Koreatown

Shin-Okubo, Tokyo

Shin-Okubo, a district in Tokyo with high concentration of ethnic Korean residents, has been suffering from anti-Korean protests by some extremely racist citizen groups in recent years.

Despite the enormous popularity of Korean pop culture such as music, drama, and beauty products among Japanese, extremist hate speech appears to be helping heighten archrival sentiments between two of United States’ closest Asian allies.

According to Norikoe Net [ja], a group working to overcome hate speech and racism in Japan, there were 360 hate speech demonstrations and propagation [ja] in 2013, both online and offline.

From their investigation in February this year, 53 hate speech scribbles on walls were found on the streets of Shin-Okubo. Another group of volunteers [ja] plans to take collective action on March 2, 2014 to erase the hateful graffiti using 20 erasers[ja] provided by a local ward office.

The tide of anti-Korean protest in Shin-Okubo also triggered a push-back from anti-hate speech demonstrators who protested against the hate-speech protests, showing messages like “let us all be friends” or “shame on you racist”. Various groups and citizens have joined the anti-anti-Korean protest to send out positive messages. But in some cases, this resulted in arrests after police tried to avoid any conflict between both the sides.