Protestors in Japan show their fervent love for Trump despite needing help to sing the U.S. national anthem.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that as much as the human race can come together and unite during times of great uncertainty, it can also cause us to become dangerously divided.

One example of a community divided right now is the United States, where outgoing President Trump has generated friction by vocally opposing the results of the November presidential election without hard evidence, refusing to wear a mask during a raging pandemic, and emboldening his right-wing supporters to turn on countries like China while threatening U.S. democracy.

Trump’s national populist stance isn’t endemic to the United States, however, as nationalists and proponents of right-wing ideologies exist all over the world, including here in Japan. And ever since Trump began refuting his loss in the election, his supporters in Japan have come out in groups to protest, marching on the streets and shouting slogans like “Fight for Trump” and “Stop The Steal“.

▼ Earlier this month, a sizeable gathering marched from Hibiya to Ginza in Tokyo.

The protests have surprised a lot of people around Japan, who didn’t realise the outgoing U.S. president had such fervent support from people who don’t even live in the United States. However, that support was clearly on display on the weekend, when Trump supporters gathered in Fukuoka City, on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, on 17 January. And while Trump may not have been there in person, his spirit certainly was, as fans had brought with them a huge rendering of their political idol in paper mache form.

▼ This Fukuoka resident says they weren’t happy about seeing this but thought it made for an unusual “mikoshi”

“Mikoshi” are portable floats commonly seen at Japanese festivals, where they’re carried on the shoulders of festivalgoers. And that’s how Trump supporters carried the giant bust as they marched through the city streets.

▼ These videos, taken by onlookers, show what the demonstration looked like from afar.

While onlookers estimated participant numbers to be around 200, organizers say roughly 500 people took part. And who were the organizers? According to promotional pamphlets for the rally, a group called The Protection of Japan’s Freedom and Peace Association was in charge of the event. However, one Twitter sleuth traced the phone number on the pamphlets back to the Sanctuary Church in Kyushu.

According to news reports from local media outlets, a number of religious groups have been taking part in the pro-Trump gatherings seen in Japan recently. The Sanctuary Church, a branch of the Unification Church, was founded in South Korea by two men who believe Trump represents “the Biblical world view”. Other groups backing Trump in Japan include members of Falun Gong, who are affiliated with The Epoch Times, a far-right newspaper and media organization favoured by Trump, and Happy Science, a controversial religious and spiritual movement founded in Japan in 1986.

Also present were members of the New Federal State of China–a political movement created by exiled Chinese billionaire businessman Guo Wengui and Steve Bannon, the controversial former chief strategist for U.S. President Donald Trump–which aims to overthrow the Communist Party of China.

▼ Marching alongside these groups are citizens who oppose the Communist Party and others who wear long coats with armbands like Nazi soldiers.

During the event, people were given fliers with lyrics to the American national anthem printed on them in katakana, the phonetic alphabet, so they could learn the English words with the correct pronunciation without having to read English.

While the support for Trump in Japan might seem surprising at first, by looking at the groups involved, it’s clear to see the vested interests they have in keeping him in power. Still, these are fringe groups who don’t represent the mainstream consensus in Japan, as evidenced by the numbers who turned up for the rally on the weekend.

With the clock now ticking on the remainder of Trump’s term in office, and the inauguration just hours away, Trump supporters will soon have to face the reality of their political idol stepping down, however ungracefully, to make way for a new leader.

As for our own Japanese Donald Trump, who now–conspiracy alert!–swapped identities with new President Joe Biden, he’ll be looking forward to seeing the news coverage filled with super deformed chibi mascot characters, as it was during the election, while eating the Biden burger made in his honour.

Source: Yahoo! JapanJin, Reuters
Top image: Twitter/@shinichick_3739 
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