Makoto Sakurai

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Makoto Sakurai in front of Ueno Station on July 24, 2016
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Makoto Sakurai (桜井 誠) (1972–), also known by his online handle Doronpa, is a Japanese far-right ultra-nationalist, netto-uyoku/alt-rightist. He is the leader of the Japan First PartyWikipedia. He is somewhat like the Donald Trump of Japan.[1] but he's more like Richard Spencer than Trump. Makoto Sakurai is a pen name, and his real name is Makoto Takata (高田 誠).[2] His Twitter account was suspended in November 2017.[3][4]

Makoto was the founder of Zaitokukai, which has been compared to neo-nazi groups. He was the head of the group from 2007 to 2014. Zaitokukai is an organization that makes direct violence against Koreans, though this has been limited to pushing and shouting.[5]

He has continued to make extreme hate speech about Koreans. For example, if you call them cockroaches or insist on killing Koreans, or criticize them in this regard, they say there is no problem because Koreans say Japanese should die. It extended to the point of using derogatory terms to Chinese people during the COVID-19 pandemic.[6]

Political career[edit]

Sakurai (real name Makoto Takata) started his career as a civil servant in a Tokyo ward office, where he spent much of his time trolling around online and becoming unhealthily obsessed with South Korea, calling it "a rare country that one hates more the more they learn about it." Somehow his trolling managed to book him an appearance on a television program called Jene Jan (ジェネジャン) in 2005, where he was introduced under the pseudonym "Makoto Kimura" (木村誠, Kimura Makoto). Shortly thereafter, he founded the Zaitokukai.

Despite repeatedly insisting he would not enter politics, Sakurai announced his candidacy for the Governorship of Tokyo after the then-incumbent resigned over a finance scandal. His catchphrase was "Japan First" sound familiar? Among his platform promises were:

  • Abolish welfare for foreigners
  • Create a law banning anti-Japanese hate speech
  • Legalize marijuana and send all tax revenue to the Yamaguchi-Gumi yakuza syndicate
  • Cancel the establishment of a new Korean school in Tokyo

He came in fifth place, with 114,171 votes or 1.74% of the popular vote. He tried running again in 2020, once more coming in fifth but with an increased vote share of 2.92% (178,784 votes).

Sakurai ran for the Tokyo No. 15 district for the 2021 general election. Despite achieving 33% more votes than his governor's race, he and the other 4 Japan First candidates gained no seat in the diet.[6]

Political position[edit]

He is a politician who is considered a far-right populist politician even by ultra-conservative Japanese political standards. He is a Japanese supremacist who claims that the Japanese people's ethnic identity is diminished by foreigners coming to Japan and insists that they should not be mixed with other people. It's comparable to the white genocide conspiracy theory, and he has a very extreme anti-Korean inclination.

While he is opposed to hate speech regulation, he insists on regulating what he considers anti-Japanese hate speech by liberals in Japan.

Differences with mainstream conservatives in Japan[edit]

Nationalists such as Shinzo Abe and Yuriko Koike, who have encroached on Japan's mainstream conservatives, are close to the far-right by European and American standards but tend to control the water level. Makoto Sakurai, on the other hand, tends to be similar to the typical American and European right-wing populist or alt-right. However, Makoto's inclination is closer to alt-right or neo-nazi, not right-wing populism alt-lite.

That's why mainstream conservatives in Japan are distancing themselves from Makoto Sakurai and think they are not extreme rightists.

In Japan, nationalism is common among mainstream conservatives, making it difficult for outsider ultra-rightists like Europe and the United States to gain huge popularity.

He had a dispute with Toru Hashimoto,[7] the neoconservative mayor of Osaka. Toru is also a very nationalist, but he is a mainstream conservative politician, so he opposes outright racism and, unlike Makoto, is in favor of racial-related hate speech regulation.

Other things[edit]

Incidentally, Sakurai still lives with his mother in Shinjuku, and runs a convenience store part-time.

See also[edit]

References[edit]