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Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006

MATTERS OF 'DIGNITY'

Anti-American in name of 'respect'


Staff writer

Mitsuhiro Kimura, leader of the "new right" organization Issuikai, visited Iraq frequently before the U.S. invasion in 2003, meeting six times with Uday Hussein, the notoriously brutal son of Saddam Hussein who was killed soon after the outbreak of war.

Kimura also received a wristwatch as a personal present from the Iraqi dictator himself.

Why the affinity?

As Kimura, a graduate of Japan's prestigious Keio University in Tokyo, said in a recent interview, he saw Hussein as cultivating a pan-Arab nationalism to protect Arab culture from meddlesome Western influence -- while "correctly" demanding that "Israel leave Palestine."

From Kimura's perspective, this was firmly in line with Tokyo-based Issuikai's charter, which calls for "respect for all the peoples of the world" -- Arab or Japanese, as the case may be -- and "the recovery of dignity through independence from the United States."

That latter aim explains why 30-member Issuikai has made Iraq a cause celebre. Focusing on Iraq's troubles since the U.S.-led invasion presents Issuikai with a means of discussing how Japan, too, can remove itself from beneath the umbrella of U.S. military dominance. "We call for the re-examination of the Security Treaty between Japan and the United States of America, and for the ability to protect ourselves," said Kimura, referring to the 1952 and 1960 agreements that put Japan's defense firmly in the hands of the U.S.

News photo
"New-rightist" Mitsuhiro Kimura, whose group Issuikai vehemently condemns the primacy of U.S. military power. ERIC PRIDEAUX PHOTO

Issuikai's Web site framed the group's discomfort with Washington more forcefully. In a Nov. 14, 2005 online "Protest Against the Bush Visit to Japan," timed for the U.S. president's arrival the following day, it reeled off a laundry list of condemnation of U.S. involvement around the world.

It starts off with Iraq: "The invasion you launched two years ago on March 20 [2003], under the euphemistic name 'War on Terror,' violated the sovereignty of Iraq and established a puppet regime. Even now, you portray Iraqi resisters as terrorists -- murdering and arresting them . . . "

It then moved quickly on to matters closer to home . . .

"Amid your global redistribution of military forces, you ignore the interests of the Japanese people," it continues. "The only solution is the total withdrawal of your forces from our land."


See related links:
Riding with the rightists
'God of death' seethes with rage
Yasukuni is a 'duty'
Building 'crisis' mood

The sights and sounds of Japan's ultranationalists: A multimedia presentation



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