Propaganda trucks in Tokyo pause their racist hate speeches to play the American national anthem.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Tokyo on Saturday for a state visit. And while Prime Minister Abe and the newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito were ready to welcome him to the country, there was another group waiting for his arrival: the Japanese right-wing nationalists.

Given the history of war between Japan and the U.S. many would think the nationalists would be opposed to the state visit, particularly given that they’re known for blaring hate speech against foreigners from their propoganda vehicles.

However, what people saw on the weekend came as a surprise, as these ultranationalists weren’t telling Trump to go home; they were saying “Welcome to Japan” instead.

Twitter user @pache_357, who snapped the above photo in Shinjuku on the weekend, noticed another odd thing about the vehicles. Instead of playing war songs from their speakers like they usually do, they were playing the American national anthem.

According to the writing on the side of the vans, these vehicles belong to the Great Japan Patriotic Party, a Japanese political party and far-right political group who seek to amend Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution. This pacifist constitution, which outlawed Japan’s right to make war, was largely created by Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur and his staff in 1947, when the U.S. occupied Japan following the war.

The fact that these ultranationalists are now supporting an American president has confused a number of people in Japan, who left comments like:

“They’re called the Great Japan Patriotic Party, but they’re flying the American flag?”
“Is this a mild extreme right wing group?”
“I thought they hated Japan’s ‘enemy nation’.”
“Aren’t these groups opposed to American politics?”
“I wish these trucks would just disappear.” 

The Great Japan Patriotic Party is one of over 1,000 right-wing groups, known as “uyoku dantai” in Japanese. However, while people in Japan know about their noisy propaganda trucks, which can be intimidating for even Japanese people, not many people are clear on their exact ideologies, which have such differing racist beliefs that some actually support US-Japan alliances against other countries.

This is the reason why some nationalist parties fly both the Japanese flag and the American flag on their trucks, even when the U.S. President isn’t in the country.

While the nationalist propaganda vehicles attracted attention on the weekend with their noisy loudspeakers, many opponents were making their voices heard as well, protesting both Trump’s and Abe’s right-wing policies.

The day before Trump arrived, protestors held a demonstration against the U.S. President’s visit and his meeting with the Japanese Emperor.

▼ “Sayonara Abe! Sayonara Trump!” This group is against the G20 summit, due to be held in Osaka at the end of next month.

While Trump watched the sumo in Tokyo on the weekend, protestors gathered with banners and placards outside the sumo arena.

Scenes from the streets during Trump’s visit show people in Japan are becoming more vocal about their views regarding politics and political leaders. And now that the U.S. President has concluded his Japan visit, it won’t be long until he arrives in the country again, this time for the G20 Summit in Osaka, when more protests like these are likely to appear.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Twitter/@pache_357
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