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Friendless fascists pay high price to be Mr Right

Cyzo (November)
Cyzo (November)

Tokyo's busier stations and holier spots frequently attract the attention of huge cordons of sound trucks with right-wing whackos blasting out messages aimed at imbibing the populace with the Yamato spirit, but Cyzo (November) notes that the cost of being an ultra patriot in modern day Japan is considerable.

Citing the case of Tokyo-based right-wing organization Byakkosha, Cyzo says it costs about 45 million yen to keep a well-drilled, maintained right-wing organization on the road.

Firstly there's the vehicles themselves, with Byakkosha keeping a fleet of a sound truck and 10 support vehicles. The truck is an old bus the group bought from the JR Group for 5 million yen, while the support vehicles are all refurbished passenger cars or vans with an average price of 1.5 million yen apiece.

Outfitting the vehicles cost a pretty penny, with millions spent doing up the interior of the sound truck so that it's as plush as the poshest Ginza nightclub, though Byakkosha got its interior on the cheap after Chairman Josei Inoue shut down the S&M Club he ran and used its furniture for the van.

Another 800,000 yen went to the painter who adorned the vehicle with a huge Japanese flag and patriotic slogans such as "respect the gods, revere the Emperor," Cyzo notes.

Each of the vehicles in the group is also equipped with a flagpole to hoist the national symbol aloft, setting back the extremists a hefty 80,000 yen for each one in use.

Running the contingent costs the fascists a fair whack, too.

Gasoline alone costs about 100,000 yen a month, then there's parking fees of 230,000 yen, exhaust filters requiring a 1.5 million yen outlay and insurance of 2 million yen.

Each time the convoy goes out on the road, the political party also has to foot a 2,000 yen charge to get a permit to operate a sound truck in the capital.

And then there's the sound system used in the trucks, which the rightists invest in heavily to get their message across, forking out about 2 million yen for amplifiers and then another 12,000 yen for a decent microphone to speak into.

And what's a decent paramilitary organization without a uniform? To get decked out in a typical right-wing organization's pseudo-soldier clobber, it costs about 15,000 for the clothes and another 5,000 yen or so for the matching combat boots, but as a rule these charges are paid by individual members rather than the group itself.

One small bonus for the sound truckers is that the patriotic songs they blast out from their trucks and dating back to World War II and adhering Japanese to do such things as "smash the demon Americans and British" come almost free of charge courtesy of being passed on from older generations of fascists or simply being pirated from CDs borrowed from rental outlets.

But the group has to maintain an office as well, which can often mean having to find about 600,000 yen to cover such costs as rent and utility charges.

So, where do the ultra-right wing groups get all the money to fund their activities? Up until about 20 years ago, they largely got by on donations from sympathetic companies or politicians. They also made money by being commissioned to carry out harassment campaigns on behalf of others.

Now, though, ultra right-wing political groups in Japan are feeling the pinch, largely because many closely associate them with the yakuza. Ever since authorities started cracking down on organized crime in the early '90s, the gaze of crimefighters has also fallen on the super patriots. Consequently, donations from outside organizations have pretty well dried up and most rightist groups like Byakkosha get by on the largesse of members. But where rightist groups could once be comprised of a rank-and-file committed to being professional agitators, now most do it only on a part-time basis while holding down regular jobs such as carpenters or painters.

Byakkosho's Inoue runs a successful chain of noodle restaurants and funnels much of their takings into keeping afloat his fascist group.

Inoue notes that times are tough for rightists believing Japan waged a just and righteous World War II as the country becomes more sympathetic to the general global view of it being a vicious aggressor.

"Up until about five or six years ago, people on the streets sympathetic to our views used to give us presents of food and drink," he tells Cyzo, adding that doesn't happen anymore. (By Ryann Connell)

(Mainichi Japan) November 1, 2007


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