Target: Kyoto District Court
Goal: Applaud Japanese court’s ruling punishing ultranationalist group for harassing ethnic Korean schoolchildren.
A group of ethnic Korean children from Kyoto, Japan experienced xenophobia firsthand, when they were confronted with a group of ultranationalists assembled in front of their elementary school. The young men screamed “cockroaches” and “spies” in the children’s direction, amplifying their voices with bullhorns to make them more threatening. Although the teachers tried to drown out the hateful rhetoric by leading the children in song, the memories of the hateful words of the strangers lingered in the minds of some of the young students long after, causing anxiety and stress-related stomach pains.
The school’s lawsuit against the group responsible for the harassment, a far-right organization called Zaitokukai, has sought damages for the distress suffered by the children. The Kyoto District Court ruled in the school’s favor, ordering Zaitokukai to pay 12 million yen or $120,000 in compensation to the elementary school. For the sake of the children’s safety, the court has additionally issued a restraining order to keep the ultranationalists from gathering in the vicinity of the school. Hopefully, the court’s ruling will send a message to the 14,000 member-wide group that its repeated harassment of ethnic Koreans will not be tolerated.
It was urgent that the group be admonished, as its members have made a habit of stalking their “enemies” to express their virulent animosity towards them. In fact, the very neighborhood where many of Tokyo’s ethnic Koreans reside — Shin-Okubo, known as Koreatown — has been invaded by marauding bands of Zaitokukai members who not only hurled racial epithets like “cockroaches” at residents, but also used threats of violence such as “Kill Koreans,” or “Throw Them into the Sea.”
There should be zero tolerance for the despicable actions of hate groups, who descend upon minority neighborhoods to spew their hatred right in the faces of their bewildered residents. Such brazen behavior strikes fear not only in those directly affected, but in the hearts of about half-a-million ethnic Koreans residing in Japan. No member of any other ethnic minority can feel safe in Japan if he or she is frequently confronted with screaming mobs. Sign this petition to praise the Kyoto District Court for taking an important step to reign in ultranationalist harassment tactics, by imposing a tough penalty on Zaitokukai members who made elementary school students the target of their vicious rhetoric.
Dear members of the Kyoto District Court,
We thank you for imposing a severe punishment on Zaitokukai, a group of ultranationalist thugs who threatened ethnic Korean children at their elementary school. In a case where right-wing activism has clearly gone overboard, there was a need to send a strong message. After all, once you are ready to scream hateful rhetoric at young children, what else might you dare try next if your actions go unpunished?
The wisdom of the court’s ruling lies in its ability to foresee a potential escalation of the situation. Forbidding members of the right-wing group from gathering in front of the school was certainly justifiable, as it will not give them the chance to either repeat their harassment or to go beyond it by attempting acts of violence.
We hope that this ruling won’t only benefit the schoolchildren whose case it dealt with, but will also discourage Zaitokukai from harassing Japan’s minority Koreans in general — a behavior that they have already repeated on many occasions in Tokyo’s Koreatown where they gathered to bring their hateful rhetoric directly to the ears and eyes of the neighborhood residents. Although nothing has thus far held back the Zaitokukai from unleashing their venom on ethnic Koreans, your ruling may serve as a deterrent to their unacceptable intimidation tactics. We thank you for showing Japan that such mass displays of intolerance have consequences.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: oldpatterns/Peter E. Lee via Flickr