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COMMENT: With Pokemon Go taking the world by storm, some in Japan are asking if super popular app is the first big success of Abe’s “Cool Japan” national strategy for exporting Japanese culture around the world . We’ll have to wait and see . But for Tomomi Inada, Japan’s Minister of the “Cool Japan” Strategy (that’s a real cabinet post), she’s not going to have much time to promote more Japanese cultural coolness. Why? Because she just became Japan’s new Defense Minister . She has previously been photographed  with the leader of a Japanese Nazi Party and endorsed  a book advocating Nazi political strategy–a doctrine also endorsed  by Taro Aso , Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Like other members of Abe’s cabinet, Inada associates with Zaikokutai, a virulent anti-Korean hate group.
Not surprisingly, Inada shares Shinzo Abe’s goal of stripping out Japan’s pacifism from the constitution. So will she become the first Defense Minister of a remilitarized Japan? Inada’s Nazi orientation is worth recalling–having promoted an a book on Hiter’s Election Strategies, at a minimum, Inada is probably pretty familiar with strategies for overhauling a constitution :
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed a conservative ally as defense minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday that left most key posts unchanged, and he promised to hasten the economy’s escape from deflation and boost regional ties.
New defense minister Tomomi Inada, previously the ruling party policy chief, shares Abe’s goal of revising the post-war, pacifist constitution, which some conservatives consider a humiliating symbol of Japan’s World War Two defeat.
She also regularly visits Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, which China and South Korea see as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Japan’s ties with China and South Korea have been frayed by the legacy of its military aggression before and during World War Two.
Asked if she would visit Yasukuni on August 15, the emotive anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War Two, Inada sidestepped the query.
“It’s a matter of conscience, and I don’t think I should comment on whether I will go or not,” she told a news conference.
Inada, a 57-year-old lawyer, is the second woman to hold the defense post. The first, Yuriko Koike, who held the job briefly in 2007, was recently elected Tokyo governor.
The foreign ministries of China and South Korea had no immediate comment on the appointment.
She also echoed Abe in emphasizing the danger posed by North Korea’s missile launch, and the need for close regional ties.
“We will steadily strengthen ties with neighboring countries such as China and South Korea, and proceed with talks with Russia for a peace treaty,” Abe told an earlier news conference.
Japan and Russia never signed a formal treaty after World War Two because of a territorial dispute.
GOING FOR GROWTH
Abe, who is trying to rekindle growth as he ponders the possibility of staying in office after his term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ends in 2018, said on Wednesday that his top priority was the economy.
On Tuesday, his outgoing cabinet approved 13.5 trillion yen ($133.58 billion) in fiscal steps to try to revive the economy.
Abe, who took office in December 2012, will retain his righthand man, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, along with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
Economics Minister Nobuteru Ishihara will also be kept on, along with Health, Welfare and Labour Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko will become trade and industry minister.
Tamayo Marukawa, the environment minister in the previous cabinet, was appointed minister to oversee preparations for Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Abe also appointed a new LDP executive line-up.
The appointment of Toshihiro Nikai, 77, as LDP secretary general was seen as signaling Abe’s hopes for a third term.
As Japan’s prime minister addresses the United Nations on Friday his reputation at home is tainted by links to avowed racists.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be speaking to the United Nations this Friday, but he may not be very welcome. In late July, the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged Japan to crack down on the growing cases of “hate speech” targeting foreign residents. The U.N. committee urged Prime Minister Abe’s administration to “firmly address manifestations of hate  and racism as well as incitement to racist violence and hatred during rallies,” and create laws to rectify the situation.
Recent events make it appear that the prime minister and his cabinet are not paying attention; several members of the cabinet not only appear oblivious to racism and hate speech issues, they associate with those who promote them.
Last week photographs of Japan’s newly appointed National Public Safety Commissioner socializing with members of the country’s most virulent racist group, Zaitokukai, were brought to light in an expose by Japan’s leading weekly magazine, Shukan Bunshun. In U.S. terms, it would be the equivalent of the attorney general getting caught chumming around with a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. This week it was reported that another cabinet member received donations from them, and that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself may have ties to the staunchly anti-Korean organization.
All of this isn’t good for Japan and Korea relations, since much of the racism is directed at people of Korean descent, nor is it good for U.S.-Japan relations. In February, the U.S. State Department in its annual report on human rights, criticized the hate speech towards Korean residents in Japan , specifically naming the Zaitokukai. The group is well known for its anti-social actions, but The Daily Beast has learned that it also has had ties to Japan’s mafia—including the Sumiyoshi-kai, which is blacklisted by the United States .
The latest news of links between the Japanese ruling coalition and unsavory characters comes just after another scandal involving neo-nazi links to two other cabinet members  made headlines worldwide.
The standard line of defense offered by the cabinet members embroiled in controversy over their connections to racist groups, “We just happened to get photographed with these people. We don’t know who they are,” is getting harder to swallow. And it has raised some disturbing issues.
The Zaitokukai , founded in 2006, has a name best translated as “Citizens Against the Special Privileges of Ethnic Koreans.” They are an ultra-nationalist, right-wing group that argues for the elimination of privileges extended to foreigners who had been granted Special Foreign Resident status—mostly Korean-Japanese.
The Zaitokukai also collect a lot of money in donations from like-minded citizens.
The group, which is led by Makoto Sakurai, whose real name is Makoto Takada, claims that ethnic Koreans abuse the social and welfare system in Japan. Zaitokukai claims to have over 14,000 members. It organizes protests and demonstrations across Japan, even in front of Korean elementary schools, yelling such slogans as “Go back to Korea,” “You’re the children of spies”—making numerous veiled and overt threats. The group asserts that all foreigners are criminals who should be chased out of Japan, especially the Koreans.
In a recent book, Sakurai states, “The Japanese understand what the Koreans are up to. If you think about it, there’s no way we can get along with these people. Even though Japanese people don’t do anything, Koreans just cause one incident (crime) after another. Every time a Korean commits another crime, our support goes up.”
And when support goes up, so do the earnings of the Zaitokukai—earnings that are poorly accounted for and go untaxed. It’s a great racket and it’s completely legal.
However, the group does have associations with the Japanese mafia, aka the yakuza, and those may not be legal. They are very closely tied to the political arm of the Sumiyoshikai, known as Nihonseinsha. .
Eriko Yamatani, as chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, oversees Japan’s police forces. It makes her association with Zaitokukai and their criminally inclined members highly problematic. One picture that dates back to 2009 shows Yamatani standing next to Yasuhiko Aramaki, who was arrested a year later for terrorizing a Korean elementary school in Kyoto, found guilty and then later arrested again in 2012 on charges of intimidation. .
Another of the people photographed with Yamatani is Shigeo Masuki, a former Zaitokukai leader. Masuki was arrested at least three times after the photograph was shot, once for threatening an elementary school principal and later for insurance fraud. Yamatani initially denied that she knew of the Zaitokukai affiliation of the people in the pictures. This is slightly strange since she has reportedly been friends with Masuki and his wife for over a decade. When replying to questions from TBS radio about the recent scandal, she explained the Zaitokukai exactly in the terminology of a true believer, inadvertently using the words “Zainichi Tokken (Special rights of the Korean Residents In Japan)” herself. At a press conference held today (September 25th), she was questioned about her use of the term and stated uncomfortably, “In my reply (to TBS) I might have just copy and pasted from the Zaitokukai homepage.” She refused to criticize the group by name or clarify whether she believed that ethnic Koreans had special privileges.
Yamatani, in her current position, oversees the National Police Agency—the very same agency that noted in its 2013 white paper that the Zaitokukai were committing hate speech, promoting racism, and posed a threat to the social order. If hate-speech becomes a crime, she may be in charge of overseeing the police that enforce the law.
She isn’t the only one close to the Zaitokukai in the current cabinet. According to the magazine Sunday Mainichi, Ms. Tomomi Inada, Minister Of The “Cool Japan” Strategy, also received donations from Masaki and other Zaitokukai associates.
Apparently, racism is cool in Japan.
Inada made news earlier this month after photos circulated of her and another female in the new cabinet posing with a neo-Nazi party leader . Both denied knowing the neo-Nazi well but later were revealed to have contributed blurbs for an advertisement praising the out-of-print book Hitler’s Election Strateg y. Coincidentally, Vice-Prime Minister,Taro As, is also a long-time admirer of Nazi political strategy , and has suggested Japan follow the Nazi Party template to sneak constitutional change past the public.
Even Japan’s Prime Minister Abe has been photographed with members of Zaitokukai. Masuki, who snapped a photo with Abe on August 17h 2009, while he was still a member of the group, bragged that Abe “kindly remembered him.”