Despite the enormous popularity of K-Pop, Korean food and beauty products, relations between Japan and South Korea have been strained for quite some time. In recent months, however, right wing groups have become increasingly vocal, with anti-Korean protests occurring more and more frequently, especially in areas where many Koreans congregate and live.

On 31 March in Shin-Ōkubo — a town situated just a couple of minutes away from Shinjuku on Tokyo’s Yamanote line and the location of a large Korean ethnic neighbourhood — hundreds of anti-Korean protesters marched through the streets carrying signs reading “Go back to Korea!” and labeling Koreans in Japan “cockroaches”. Thankfully, equally large numbers of liberally-minded Japanese also showed up to protest the protest.

“You are the shame of this country!” “You’re the ones who need to go home!” “Get back to the Internet where you belong!”

Just some of the anti-anti-Korean slogans shouted and written on placards by the people lining the streets of Shin-Ōkubo amid the protests on Sunday, hoping to protect and show support for the Koreans living there.

On numerous occasions, tempers frayed as pro-Koreans gave middle-finger salutes to anti-Korean protesters, who were often seen to lunge as if to intending to throw punches, with police struggling to keep the groups apart. The streets of the town — ordinary a place that attracts thousands of tourists and Japanese seeking delicious Korean food — quickly became a sea of people and angry voices, with protesters, riot police and everyday people caught up in the chaos.

Nationalistic netouyo (coming from ネット netto meaning Internet and 右翼 uyoku meaning right wing) groups are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Japanese government’s decisions and are known for making long, angry posts on Internet message boards. Often pointing to the failings of the government and the fact that Japan is losing what once made it a strong, proud nation thanks to the invasion of foreign culture and ideas, netouyo are often critical of Koreans in particular, suggesting that their presence in the country is harmful to Japan. For this reason, the anti-protesters seen on the streets of Shin-Ōkubo last weekend repeated the phrase “go home to the Internet” in between singing anti-racism songs.

Source: J-Cast News