Friday, October 23, 2009

Uyoku Dantai

(PICTURE: A Uyoku Dantai vehicle.)

Paula and I were walking near the station recently and heard the Japanese national anthem blasting from a black minivan decked out in Japanese flags and writing. Paula explained to me that this was a common occurrence in Japan. She wasn't exaggerating because about twenty minutes later, on the other side of town, we saw/heard another black minivan blasting the national anthem.

Turns out these vans are part of an extreme right wing Nationalist group called the Uyoke Dantai. Rather than try to explain about them -- since I would just be quoting Wikipedia anyway -- I'll cut and copy part of the Wikipedia entry here:

Uyoku dantai
are well known for their highly visible propaganda vehicles, known as gaisensha (街宣車)--converted vans, trucks and buses fitted with loudspeakers and prominently marked with the name of the group and propaganda slogans. The vehicles are usually black, khaki or olive drab, and are decorated with the Imperial Seal, the flag of Japan and the Japanese military flag. They are primarily used to stage protests outside organizations such as the Chinese, Korean or Russian embassies, Chongryon facilities and media organizations, where propaganda (both taped and live) is broadcast through their loudspeakers. They can sometimes be seen driving around cities or parked in busy shopping areas, broadcasting propaganda, military music or Kimigayo, the national anthem.