What I want to say again about the difference between Japanese and foreign ways of thinking about protest demonstrations against killing of George Floyd

While the number of new coronavirus infections is declining worldwide, in the United States, “Black Lives Matter”, protest demonstrations against a man killed by police officers discriminating black people became popular, and the spark is spreading all over the world. It is natural for people to stand up against black discrimination, but the riots have become radical. Some people are even attacking Nike and Apple stores and others are setting fire on buildings and cars.

President Trump said such actions were led by ANTIFA, militant, left-wing, and anti-fascist political activists and identified them as terrorists.

However, there is also a theory that these criminal acts are masquerading or inciting by Trump-supporting white supremacists. Since I live far from the United State, I do not know what the truth is.

Although it was revealed in a survey by Twitter, Inc. that the twitter account claiming to be ANTIFA was a spoofed white supremacist, I wonder if an account with only a few hundred followers could be so influential. Also, have watched the videos of people actually attacking shops. Some were white and some were colored. They seemed to be the people of all races. There seems to be no white man. In addition, I do not really have a good image for ANTIFA. The reason is because due to the mere disagreement, for many years I have been receiving harassment, such as being called as a racist, by people who claim to be ANTIFA in Japan.

And, of course, I am opposed to racism, but my home in Dublin is near the American Embassy. It would be terrifying if there was an arson or an attack near my home even in the name of black discrimination.

I agree with the demonstrations, but I am against crimes such as plunders and violence.

However, when I said so, some people especially English-speaking and Japanese living in overseas, attacked me with Twitter. “Black discrimination is more important than such a small crime!”, one said. “A small sacrifice is just for justice!”, the other told me off and labeled me as “discriminator”.

Let me say again.

(1) It is a serious problem that a black man was killed by public authority due to racism. So, I support the demonstration activities.

(2) I oppose situations where the property or life of a third party, including myself, is unduly exposed to danger.

Opinions (1) and (2) can coexist in my mind, but for some reason, many people do not understand. It felt extremely unreasonable be attacked by them when I expressed the idea (2) even after I stated (1). Why are they so extreme? 

This question has come a little after a talk with my friend, so I would like to share my thoughts with you. In short, I thought that it could be due to differences in the history and culture of the demonstrations, as well as the degree of liability in public safety, and police between Japan and foreign countries.

For example, in Japan the student movement flourished in the 1970s, an extremist student group gathered in the mountain. They tortured and killed each other and held a hostage in the cottage. They became a symbol of social evil. In the 1990s, AUM Shinrikyo caused a subway sarin incident, so the impression that “Anti-social people were terrifying when radicalized.” became stronger, I think. I also think that compared to other parts of the world, in safe country like Japan, decapitations and arsons caused by demonstrations are quite extraordinary for us Japanese.

Two years ago, youths gathered in Shibuya for Halloween to make a big fuss, not a demonstration. In countries with poor securities, it is an everyday scene and there is no arrest, but in Japan some of them were arrested and their real names were announced to the public as a warning to others. Unfortunately, each one of them would not even be able to get a proper job just by burning a light truck upside down. They are almost liquidated from society. However, we Japanese value security more than anything else. So, if there is a plunder or an arson in the demonstrations, those who have done it will be subject to social sanctions.

In some other countries where police and mafia are connected to each other, the police are corrupt and unreliable for not helping those who reported the cases or not investing them. On the other hand, Japanese police do not have obvious corruption or cozy relationships with the gangs. Although they arrest a female artist of pussy, they seem to have basically a high trust from the public for their investigative ability.

With the dark history such as the student movement in the 1970s and the terrorist act of AUM Shinrikyo, we Japanese have a lot of trust in the police and fear for deprivations and arsons. The promise of the way of thinking about demonstrations may be different between us and people in unsafe (pardon me for using this word) countries with frequent demos.

I add what I have noticed about a story about an acquaintance of mine who lived in the United States. Her favorite pouch was stolen as she left it for less than a minute in the school lavatory. She reported to her teacher. The teacher preached, “A thief has reasons. Make sure to protect your treasure.” When her relatives called the police for an office robbery, the policeman told them that criminals might not be found and so the stolen goods would not return. It seems to me that Americans think criminals have circumstances or reasons such as poverty, so people should be responsible for self-protection within the United States.

Since we Japanese strongly aware that “No matter what the circumstances, a crime is a crime.”, “We shouldn’t annoy or harm others.” and “Criminals are evil.”, it is hard for us to understand American way of thinking. When I had no idea why they think that way, but now my discomfort disappeared. There is no help for it because the ways of thinking towards crimes are different. Therefore, obviously it is not a matter of comparing the superiority of cultural standard between two countries.

Even with these differences, I would say again that I am in favor of the demonstrations because it is a serious issue that black man was killed by public authority due to racism. However, I am against situations where the property and life of third parties, including myself, are wrongfully exposed to danger.

It is because we all do not want to be attacked on our shops or residence. If I were told “A small sacrifice is unavoidable.”, I would be angry not only with those who said so but also with the people who participated in the demonstration. It still is unreasonable for someone to get hurt or suffer damage even if it is much smaller compared to black discrimination. There will be another hatred and fights and discriminations will never end.

The chain of barren anger should be broken.

Shouldn’t we consider protest demonstrations and crimes such as plunders and arsons separately?

In Black Lives Matter, there was a demonstration that allowed the American flag to be run over by a car. Although expressions to stain, trample, destroy or burn something are not what I like, I do not stop them at all because we all have freedom of expression. I just want to express my hate of police officers in cute and happy ways in my works.

Discrimination is something that is in everyone’s mind, so I think it is difficult to eradicate. However, I hope everyone in the world can live in peace, and happiness by reducing it as much as possible.

In this text, I used the phrase “the American way of thinking”, but of course, since it is a country of all races, I do not say that all Americans think the same way.

I speculated that it might be a particularly prominent feature of those who attacked me on Twitter.



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