“This is Japan” is a weekly blog post where I talk a little about my life here.

It’s a place where I can share some of the strange, funny, or thought-provoking stories from my week. You can learn a little about what it is like to live in Japan and some of the weird and wonderful things here.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

It’s Golden Week in Japan! Golden Week is just the first week of May where there are a bunch of consecutive holidays and a lot of people get a lot of time off. This year my husband and I didn’t have any huge plans. On Tuesday we hiked from Magome to Tsumago on the old Nakasendo trail. It is a lovely walk in the woods and place to imagine old Japan.

On Wednesday, the holiday in question was Constitutional Memorial Day.

The Japanese Constitution came into place on 3 May 1947. It is based on a democracy and is modelled on American and British constitutions. In fact, the authors of the Japanese Constitution were American.

A major point of the Constitution is that, unlike previous eras, the Emperor is only a symbol of the state and unity of the people. He no longer has any power related to the government.

Now, it seems that there are some Japanese nationalism groups who disagree with the Constitution. They don’t like the direction that Japan is on. Different groups want the Emperor to have power again, oppose communism, or seek to justify Japanese war crimes committed during WWII.

It’s all a bit complicating

Anyway, I guess Constitutional Memorial Day is a day for these groups to come out in full force and express their opinions.

There are Japanese nationalism trucks (and buses and SUVs) that drive around blaring military music and political ideologies from loudspeakers. The trucks are called uyoku dantai, which means right-wing groups. I just refer to them as Japanese nationalism trucks. I mentioned them briefly in a post before.

I’ve seen the vehicles other times throughout the year, but never as many as I saw on Wednesday. My husband and I were sitting at home when we heard *something.* Thinking it was coming from the station, we went outside to try and find it. We soon realized it was not at the station, and followed the sounds of loudspeakers until we finally found it.

It was about 50 Japanese nationalism trucks. They were driving slowing around the block, blasting music and political opinions on loudspeakers. The vehicles are  black, navy, or military green and are have the modern Japanese flag, the military flag, and the Emperor’s seal.

To be honest, Japanese nationalism trucks scare me a little bit.

I always think that part of their ideologies are to expel or kill foreigners, especially foreigners who marry a Japanese person. How dare we foul the perfect Japanese society. And those who have children, how dare they pollute the sacred Japanese blood.

Here’s a video. See the guys peeing on the wall?

Read: Japanese children and “the way of the bayonet”


    • They are not prohibited because they aren’t doing anything illegal. Sometimes they might be connected with the yakuza, but I think not always. They are expressing their opinion, and Japan allows freedom of expression. When they decide to drive around, they need to get permission from the police – where, when, and for how long. Then the police sort of follow them around.

      • Yeah, I guess it’s the same when right-wing parties want to do a demonstration here in Germany, they have to ask permission and police will be around there. But I just think that anything that involves racism, sexism and intolerance in general should not be allowed, even if it’s considered as freedom of speech and expression. Some things have to have boundaries, and for me, hate speeches belong to that.

        • I don’t think they are blatantly saying racist, sexist, or hateful things. Just that they want the emperor to take power again, and that Japan should have more conservative and “traditional” values. Then again, I can’t understand most of what they are saying on the loudspeakers.

  1. This is so interesting. I believe insights like these are what really fascinate us about foreign places. Much more like sights and attractions, observations of habits, customs and everyday life are what stays in mind long after one returned from a journey. Great post!

    • Things like this usually take time and careful observation to notice, don’t they? You often pass over or ignore them if you are just rushing through a place.

  2. I think you’re right, and I think other countries are justified in being afraid of Japan. While I don’t think (at least I hope not) that Japan would go down the Imperialist road again, how can anyone every really predict world power politics?

  3. Precisely why the SE Asian countries are so reluctant to see Japan abandon their pacifist constitution when you have such people just waiting to reassert their military might.

  4. Very Intimidating. I hope it never comes to revolution in Japan. I guess there’s always someone looking to cause trouble.

    • Oh, gosh. There is still hostility between neighbouring countries. Never mind the loose canon that is North Korea. It’s scary to think about what might happen if things get out of hand..

    • It’s not uncommon to see men peeing on the side of building in Japan. In the daylight. Right on the main street. It’s pretty gross. So why do they do it? I have no idea.

Leave a reply!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.