Around 2,000 people gathered to march against hate speech at a rally in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district on Sunday.
Demonstrators marched around Shinjuku Station holding placards reading “We oppose hate speech” and “Let’s get along,” while chanting “Stop discrimination, let’s live together,” NHK reported. A brass band and dancers also performed as participants attempted to spread a positive message in opposition to anti-Korean rallies that often take place on the city’s streets.
At a meeting prior to the start of the march, singer Hisashi Yoshino, 45, told fellow participants, “I don’t want to live in a city in which there is racism. There’s no other way to stamp it out other than each and every one of us making an effort to stop discriminating.”
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 particular, Shin-Okubo, which is home to many ethnic businesses, has been the scene of many protests by rightwing groups this year. The groups have become increasingly vocal, with anti-Korean protests occurring more and more frequently, especially in areas where many Koreans congregate and live.
In one big rally in April, hundreds of anti-Korean protesters marched through the streets carrying signs reading “Go back to Korea!” and labeling Koreans in Japan “cockroaches.”
However, an equally large number of 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!”
A large contingent of police were on hand at Sunday’s rally but there were no clashes between opposing sides.