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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tokyo Right Wing Sound Vans' Summer Heyday

東京 街宣車

The office here in Tokyo's Hirakawacho district is just a little north of Nagatacho, Japan's seat of government. A new feature of early summer this year is the increased street presence - with the usual intense hollering - of the right wing sound vans (in Japanese, gaisensha) in the area.

While they are certainly no strangers to the streets around Nagatacho, the right wing has been particularly active since a few days ago, slowly cruising the otherwise sleepy streets of Hirakawacho, police in tow, and haranguing a profoundly uninterested and irritated local populace who are forced to close windows in the summer heat to block the ear-splitting blast.

The decibel levels are truly terrifying, not to mention the voice itself, which often cracks in self-induced paroxysms of outrage, roars guttural non-verbal admonitions between sentences, and generally keeps up an almost superhuman level of ongoing rage. Amphetamines are the (illegal) drug of choice in Japan, and it would not surprise me at all if it were a factor in fueling such rants.

The behavior of right wing sound vans makes it more than clear that the protagonists are not interested in trying to persuade - but simply to shock and scare. It is an assault of verbal violence whose tone says more about Japan's extreme right wing than any manifesto.

See JapanVisitor interview a right wing sound van leader

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