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Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006
NATIONALIST HATREDS BORN OF WAR
'God of death' seethes with rage
Home renovator Shinichi Kamijo has three tattoos of swastikas: one on each shoulder and another smack dab between his sizeable pectoral muscles -- right above the words, "Heil Hitler.''
A black belt in karate, and built like a bull, Kamijo, 37, also has the word "Death" tattooed across the back of his neck -- "as a courtesy to foreigners," he said, mostly U.S. Navy servicemen he used to brawl with in Tokyo's Roppongi party district.
As he explains: "It means, 'I am the god of death and I will mete death upon you.' ''
Yet it was with an affable smile and in polite and cultivated Japanese that Kamijo -- who was a teenage motorcycle gang leader before founding the still-thriving 17-member nationalist group Gishin Gokoku-kai at age 26 -- presented his logic for hating not only Chinese and Koreans but also his fellow Japanese who sympathize with them.
What set you on that course?
I used to love fighting! I have so many scars from being stabbed with knives and what have you. I can't tell you how many times I mixed it with yakuza mobsters during my bike-gang days, only to be called into one of their offices and offered a job for showing guts! (Laughs)
I'm known as a troublemaker. But I speak my mind. If I wasn't like that, how could I have started a group like this at such a young age?
I've often gone before the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party prepared to protest their policies by slicing open my belly. One time, it was over a top lawmaker who I'd heard was involved with some kind of overseas development aid for China or South Korea. Now, I don't know if it's true, but I'd heard that those LDP lawmakers get kickbacks from that aid. I showed up with two samurai swords stashed away in my gaisensha [rightist group's truck] and really wanted to kill that man, then commit seppuku [ritual disembowelment], but there were too many riot police on guard.
What were the roots of your nationalistic sentiments?
I didn't start off hating China or [South] Korea. The reason I came to hate them were their anti-Japanese campaigns and education. That was in my elementary-school days. See, my father is a leftist. He was a labor leader -- a communist -- you know: socialism, anti-Emperor. He and I have fought so much that we stopped talking. But when I was a 5th-grader he gave me a book titled "Adolf Hitler." There were aspects of Hitler's thought that really resonated with me.
In other words, hatred doesn't appear out of thin air. In Germany's case before World War II, when Germans were destitute, Jews used their money to control everything and oppress the suffering German people, with whom I sympathized. That's when my eyes opened up.
What I want to say is, let's say for the sake of the argument that I kill somebody. There would be survivors, right? Well, the one responsible for compensating the wife and children would be me. But when I die, it's not right to pass the blame to my wife and kids.
Why should we modern Japanese, who didn't start World War II, be criticized by Korea and China, or apologize and pay reparations? That is the basis for ethnicity-faction rightist thought. I hate South Korea the most, and China second. North Korea? I don't even acknowledge its existence.
How do you view the Emperor?
People worship the Emperor as a symbol of Japanese history, but to be honest I was angry at the Emperor [Hirohito (1901-89), known posthumously as Showa] when I heard those reports of memos describing his displeasure with the Class-A war criminals. My question is: If Japan is a country for the Japanese, then why should we excuse the Emperor for hurting Japanese people in any way? We're not supposed to just follow his orders. The people are at the center.
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