23rd May 2019

European and Japanese far right to hold Tokyo congress

  • Lanterns at the Yasukuni shrine, home to the souls of 1,068 WW2 war criminals (Photo: Eprouveze)

British National Party leader Nick Griffin may regularly pretend he is taking up the mantle of Winston Churchill, but one has to wonder whether the wartime prime minister would really approve of the upcoming meeting of the BNP and other EU far-right parties in Tokyo organised with Nippon Issuikai, a Japanese extreme right group that denies Empire of Japan atrocities.

Mr Griffin has lately made a habit of quoting the UK's wartime leader, horrifying his descendents, while the party's website front-page bears a thoughtful, hand-on-chin photograph of the BNP leader next to a determined-looking Mr Churchill, presumably taken during World War II, when Britain was in the middle of a death struggle with the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

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But this August, the BNP and its friends in the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM), the "europarty" coalition of many of Europe's far-right parties, is to hold a week-long conference in the Japanese capital to discuss "The Future of Nationalist Movements" in partnership with Issuikai, or "Wednesday Society" in Japanese.

The vice-president of France's Front National (FN), MEP Bruno Gollnisch, said of the conference on his website: "This meeting between Japanese and European patriotic movements is a world first."

Issukai is one of the main nationalist or 'new right' groups in the country and views the post-war Japanese government as a puppet of the United States. The group wants to see the emperor return to Kyoto (the old imperial capital), denies the atrocities of the Empire of Japan, including the hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians killed in the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, and asserts that there is no evidence that during the war Japanese soldiers forced women into sexual slavery.

The group, founded in 1972 by followers of the celebrated but hard-right militarist novelist Yukio Mishima, who committed ritual Seppuku suicide after his failed 1970 attempt at inspiring a coup d'etat by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, has few members but remains influential in the media, with leader Mitsuhiro Kimura having appeared regularly on TV political chat shows and writing opinion pieces in the Asahi Shimbun daily.

Mr Kimura has long wanted to build an international alliance of far-right parties.

France's FN and Hungary's Jobbik, which won 17 percent in the country's recent general election and maintains a paramilitary wing (itself partly inspired by the fascist-Hungary-era Arrow Cross), Belgium's Flemish separatist Vlaams Belang, Italy's Fiamma Tricolore, Ataka from Bulgaria, Portugal's Partido Nacional Renovador and Svoboda, a Ukrainian group, will also take part in the meeting, to take place between 11 and 18 August.

According to the FN, the conference is to focus on the future of the far right, as well as "lessons that Japan could learn from the experience and achievements of European movements, some of which have made inroads in recent polls, and ways to maintain ties worldwide."

While in Japan, the AENM delegation will make a visit to the Yasukuni shrine, long controversial for visits by politicians to this home to the souls of 1,068 World War II war criminals.

Mr Kimura is on good terms with the French party's Bruno Gollnisch, who speaks fluent Japanese and has been professor of Japanese language and civilisation at the University of Lyons since 1981.

The Issui-kai leader was also once on cordial terms with Uday Hussein, the son of Iraq's late leader, before he was killed in 2003.

FN leader Jean Marie Le Pen for his part has frequently noted his admiration for Japan's highly restrictive immigration policies.

The AENM will send 20 delegates, including Jobbik's Bela Kovacs, who acts as something of an international relations specialist for Hungarian far-right outfit. He too speaks Japanese fluently, as his family had served Hungary's former Communist government in Japan in a diplomatic capacity in his youth.

The European Parliament reports that no request for funding for the trip has been made with the chamber.

The delegation will also include from the BNP Adam Walker due to his working for a bit as a teacher in Japan.

Mr Walker, president of the group's nationalist 'trade union,' Solidarity, and recently appointed the BNP's staff manager, was recently grilled by the UK's General Teaching Council for describing immigrants as "savage animals" and "filth" while working as a technology teacher.

He also runs a martial arts academy.

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