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Suffering Forces Us to Think beyond the RightLeft Barrier

Amamiya Karin Jodie Beck

Mechademia, Volume 5, 2010, pp. 251-265 (Article)
Published by University of Minnesota Press

For additional information about this article

Access Provided by McGill University Libraries at 10/05/11 6:23PM GMT

aMaMiya Karin
Translated and with an Introduction by Jodie Beck

Suffering Forces Us to Think beyond the RightLeft Barrier

tRanSlatoRS intRoduction
Amamiya Karin is a writer with a complex and interesting relation to the notion of fandom. She came to the medias attention as the subject of a 1999 film documentary about an ultranationalist punk band, of which she was a member. Since then, she has attracted wide notice and a wide following as a spokesperson for a generation that increasingly feels left behind. Amamiya was born in 1975 in Hokkaido and now resides in Tokyo. She is a prolific writer and speaker with an agenda that has its roots in her own background: she has written extensively about her own personal history of ijime (being bullied at school), self-mutilation, and multiple suicide attempts, relating her own experiences to a wider trend of suffering (ikitzurasa) among members of Japans lost generation. Her early sense of loss, economic instability, and lack of direction led her to seek comfort and a sense of belonging in Japanese nationalism, and she became a member of the rightwing organization Totsugekitai as well as the singer for the ultranationalist punk band The Revolutionary Truth.


Amamiya has also allied herself with Japans working poor and the precariat movement (a neologism made by combining precarious with the iat of proletariat). Precarity, precariat, and related terms have been used in various countries to refer to groups of workers in unstable or precarious positions, and the material and psychological effects on their overall quality of life. Among Japans precariat, Amamiya includes such groups as furiitaa or freeters: freelance workers, temporary workers, undocumented workers, and others with low or unstable wages, few or no benefits, and little job security. The concept of precarity thus brings together various groups of workers through shared vulnerability as the basis for a common cause. Amamiya has worked with Tsuchiya Yutaka on the films Atarashii kami sama (1999, The new god) and Peep TV Show (2004).1 Atarashii kamisama uses a documentary style to delve into the conflicting views between Amamiyas right-wing nationalism and Tsuchiyas views as a leftist, activist filmmaker with an antinationalist, antiemperor system stance. In the film, we see the beginnings of Amamiyas search to find common ground through proactive dialogue and debate between her right-wing politics and that of older ultraleftist members of the Japanese Red Army. The idea that people of radically opposed political views can work together against a common enemy or a common social problem such as precarity is also taken up in the text below. After Atarashii kamisama, Amamiya and Tsuchiya cowrote the film Peep TV Show, which looks at the experiences and angst of the generation of Japanese living in a post-9/11 surveillance society. The film questions such concepts as public and private in an information age in which narratives of terror circulate on a massive scale. Amamiya recently wrote the introduction to the rerelease of proletarian writer Kobayashi Takijis Kani ksen (1929, Cannery ship), a novel that she felt spoke to Japans contemporary precariat despite a gap of about eighty years since its original publication.2 Norma Field notes that Amamiya observed [in the daily Mainichi newspaper] that, reading Cannery Ship, she was struck by how the conditions depicted mirrored the current desperate situation of young workers. 3 A leftist writer who had garnered little attention since his torture and death at the hands of authorities in 1933, Takiji has enjoyed a recent surge of interest in Japan, particularly among a younger generation, and Amamiyas contribution to the new release of Takijis novel has arguably played a role in this. This sudden and explosive interest in Takiji coincided with recognition of the severity of the economic situation and realization of the role political and economic policies were playing in creating an income-gap society. Norma Field argues that the Takiji boom was manufactured and real:

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What was required for that to happen was not only a widespread acknowledgement of economic crisis, but the much more difficult recognition for a society habituated to regarding itself as homogeneously middle-class that the solutions being adopted were creating dramatic disparities.4

In recent years, Amamiya has thus reconsidered many of her political ideas, suggesting that suffering and uncertainty may not be so simply addressed in terms of the political right or left. She has left both the ultranationalist punk band as well as the right-wing organization of her earlier days. Her political stance has changed considerably throughout her career, in what may be seen as a continued effort to develop and seek a way to move beyond a divisive or static political stance. Her passionate investment in issues of precarity and suffering can therefore be seen as one that has not led to a dogmatic agenda but rather as one that continues to evolve. Her writings and the publications in which they appear reflect this refusal to neatly compartmentalize experience. Field concludes that Amamiya, in her early thirties, seems to effortlessly cross the boundaries between old and new left and new new left, liberal, socialist, and communist publications. 5 She continues to work on issues including neoliberalism, globalization, and their effects on the lost generation of Japan, often appearing on television talk show panels. Her publications include Iki jigoku tengoku (2000, Living hell heaven), Jisatsu no kosuto (2002, The cost of suicide), and Aku no Sjiku o tazunete (2003, Visiting the Axis of Evil).6 This essay, subtitled In the Wasteland after the Bubble Burst, was published in May 2008 in a special issue of the magazine Rosujene / Lost Generation.7 Starting from some comments on her own celebrity, the author touches on a number of issues related to fandom and subcultures, including manga politics, the conflation of consumption with identity, and the double-edged sense of division and belonging generated by ideological labels.

SuFFeRinG FoRceS uS to think beyond the RiGhtleFt baRRieR

Recently various people have said that I am becoming leftist. The newspaper Akahata wrote Patriotic Punk Goes Around to the Left. When I speak at public events, the epithet previously right-wing and now left-wing is sometimes attached to my name. And the fact that I became a member of the editorial committee of Shkan Kinybi in January of this year seems to be

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perceived as the decisive evidence. But when people say that I am becoming leftist, I feel extremely uncomfortable. In the first place, the reason people originally started saying that was because I had become involved with the precariat movement (the precarious proletariat), and started covering and writing about it as a main theme. Included in the precariat are the types of people typified as freeters, 8 such as irregular employees and NEETs,9 regular employees and self-employed people who are forced to do free overtime, and even people like me who do freelance writing. It is an opposition movement against the fact that people all over the world are forced into instability because of neoliberalism, which is advancing globalization. As I proceeded to collect information on things like suffering and suicide, I had really come to feel that no matter what we do, theres no way out. There were young people all around me committing suicide, denying their own existence, just repeating that they wanted to die. One day, after looking into the hearts of these people day after day, I realized that maybe there is a structural problem behind their suffering. And the word that hit the mark was precariat, and one enemy that came to mind was neoliberalism. The word neoliberalism had appeared at points here and there before, but the dots were now connected into a clear line. A lot of so-called mental health-ers [people with mental health problems] come from the generation that grew up during what people called the job market ice age. One of my acquaintances who committed suicide first became depressed after failing employment exams at a hundred companies. And I myself got canned from my job on the first day countless times when I was a freeter. At those times not so long ago, I blamed myself and attempted suicide again and again. My younger brother, who graduated from university during the job market ice age, became a freeter and several years later got a job at Yamada Denki, where he was forced to work eighteen hours a day and almost died from overwork. At a time when we were feeling so much instability within our own hearts, the idea of working normally and making a living itself was becoming unstable in this country. It was a warped picture: poorly paid freeter or regular full-time employee fated to die from overwork. Yet people say that this predicament is a matter of personal responsibility and freeters have continued to experience bashing. In the meantime, homelessness among freeters of my generation is becoming more visible. All at once the freeter issue has changed from a matter of working on your own terms to one of having the right to survive. Even if you work, you cant live. You cant eat. For irregular employees unemployment is always a presupposition: there is no guarantee that one day

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you wont suddenly lose your job. So, young people found their way into the net cafes and the streets. A homeless man in his thirties told me that once, when he first started living on the street, he didnt eat anything for two weeks. If the precariat movement is things continue like this, it is just a matter an opposition movement of time before those who were once freeters against the fact that start dying of starvation. So this is why for people all over the world me, the issue of unstable employment has are forced into instability changed from a matter of working style to a because of neoliberalism, matter of life and death. which is advancing Now, because of that, people have globalization. started telling me that I have become leftist, but I dont think this is the type of problem that can be divided into right and left. And I myself have not consciously changed from right to left. So, lets take a look back at the time that I became a rightist.

the ReaSon that i joined a RiGht-winG oRGanization at aGe twenty-two

I had come across right-wing groups by the end of 1996, and the next year I joined a New Right organization known as Totsugekitai at the age of twenty-two. What I want to make clear here is the fact that this was not what you might imagine when you think of so-called right-wing organizations. Normally, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear right-wing is probably something like extortion. But Totsugekikai never did anything like that. The members generally worked and put the money they earned into the organization little by little as activity fees. Being that type of organization, we didnt have a campaign car either. When we spoke on the streets, we made a stage in front of the train station, stood there on the ground, and made our address. Another image that people have when they hear right-wing is that its the next step after the bszoku,10 but in the organization I belonged to, there were almost none of those kinds of people. A right-wing organization campaigning using money from their own pockets, not riding around making announcements from a campaign car, with no delinquent bsozku graduates. So what kind of people were they? Well, they were young people like me. In short, freeters who had junior high or high school educations. Why did they end up in that organization? The

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only answer is that when they thought seriously about Japan and about themselves, it just happened. Actually, they were surprisingly serious. And looking back, I myself was also almost too serious and clumsy at the time. In fact, there were countless ways that I could be duped. By shopping, dating, karaoke, live shows, video gamesthose kinds of amusements. In any case, there was this overwhelming flood of propaganda telling us just to do stuff like that. Really, it was enough to make you nauseous. But we realized it. We knew that this was not the time or place to be doing that kind of thing, and that something very grave was being hidden from us, and that if we didnt do anything about it, it might have life-and-death consequences for us. Actually, if I took a good look in front of me, I saw nothing but a huge mountain of rubble. But that rubble was invisible to stable adults. I had to walk all alone on top of that pile of debris. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded; lifetime employment; when I become an adult, Ill probably become an OL,11 get married, and have a couple kidsafter all those murmurs in the back of my mind had crumbled and gone, that pile of rubble was all that was left. Living in the so-called recession or job market ice age after the economic bubble burst, I knew in my heart that day by day I continued to lose more, and that my own will had nothing to do with it. I knew it from the way that a guy at my part-time workplace confessed that he was unable to go to the university of his choice and was working there because his father was in enormous debt after the bubble burst. I knew it from the way my salary kept going down little by little, and from the way that I couldnt see anything beyond life as a freeter, and from the way that the future just around the corner was far too unclear. Even if you work here full-time, you wont be able to live on that. Is that ok? Thats what the manager said once when I went to a part-time job interview, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. The salary was about 800 or 900 yen per hour. It was a blunt way to put it, but the manager was definitely right. Even if you work full-time, you wont be able to live on that. Ever since the phrase working poor came out more than ten years ago, places that employ freeters have been making the most of all this. And the strange thing is that nobody even questioned it. Well, youre a freeter, arent you? Although the bubble had already burst, the bubble periods image of freeters as working on their own terms remained strong. Having just been told that even if I worked full time I wouldnt be able to eat, I still asked for the job. In the end, I was fired after working there for about three months. One morning I called in sick because I had a cold, and I was told, Oh, you dont have to come in anymore. Ever so casually. With no sense of guilt whatsoever.

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From age nineteen on, my life was a repetition of things like that. It was the middle of the job market ice age when I graduated from high school in 1993, failed the beauty college entrance examinations twice, and gave up going on to higher education; there was no other course but to live as a freeter. I felt like I was alone, floating and drifting about five centimeters apart from society. I wanted to fit in, but there was no place for me. I was searching for a place where people would let me in. I had absolutely no idea what was happening to me. But the worst thing was that every time I got fired, I felt hurt. I felt hopeless, like I wasnt needed by anybody anywhere. The work at my part-time jobs was boring, simple stuff that anybody could do. So, not being needed even for trivial work like that, how could I justify myself? A lot of my friends were also freeters. Of those, there were some who were enjoying their lifestyles. They were good at floating along on an endless everyday and at discovering fun and interesting things right in front of their eyes. They knew the art of living a fun life by always putting things off. But when they entered their thirties, started looking for stable jobs, and realized that there was nothing in this country to take up the slack, there were also some who took their own lives. But before then, there was no way for them to know that about the future. For me, I couldnt put off the instability of the here and now, and I always blamed myself for being so bad at living my life. There was a friend who joined the right-wing organization with me who also couldnt float along on an endless everyday. He always said to me, Our future is definitely going to be homelessness, isnt it. I wanted to deny it, but how could I? Because now that somebody had actually said it to me, I knew that it was true. Unable to live even if I worked full-time, I depended on my parents for part of my living expenses. In particular, I always went crying to them for money when it looked like I would fall behind on my rent payments. At those times my parents would just say, Do something about it or Get a proper job, and things like that that I didnt want to hear. What I wanted to avoid hearing most of all was, You know, Dad isnt going to be healthy forever or You know, we are going to die before you are. When they told me that, I knew that the color drained from my face as though Id been struck by sudden anemia. If my parents died or stopped being able to work, what would happen to me? My friends word, homeless, suddenly tasted bitterly real. I knew all too well that it was difficult to escape from the life of a freeter. That was because the job market ice age was getting even worse. And even in the middle of that, huge numbers of new graduates were being spit out into society every year. There was no way to win. And I didnt even have enough energy left to

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take action to escape from the freeter life. Every day I was pressed enough just making my daily living. Even after turning thirty, would I still have to keep scraping along, living on 900 yen an hour? Or even after turning forty, or fifty?

the ReaSon that auM ShinRikyO Shone like a bRiGht liGht to Me

We realized that the era had changed at its very foundations, simply because just working normally and living from day to day could be so difficult. Without being able to express it in language, we could perceive deep down that society now greeted young people with an entirely new degree of coldness. There was this feeling of urgency, that we couldnt even live our lives based on the common sense and values that we had held until then. Ive got to think seriously about this. My own future. How am I going to live? What is going to hap pen to me? My head was always full of those words. Around that time, Aum Shinriky carried out its sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. These were young people, our age or a little order, abandoning this world, striving for asceticism while somehow saying something incredibly hugeliberating humanity, saving the world, or whatever. For me, a freeter doing work that anybody could do, punching buttons on a cash register every day for 900 yen an hour, that image was like a shining light. In response to the attack, phrases like the era of the heart and education for the heart suddenly flooded the media. They even said that maybe an incident like this happened because Japans postwar education or values were mistaken. Until then, what the adults around me were saying could be summarized as follows: First of all, beat your competitors. Kick people down and push your way as far up as possible. And finally, earn and spend as much money as you can. We had been taught that this is the only way to become happy. However, the waves of the recession suddenly made a huge lie of those words. Two months before the subway sarin gas attack, that lie was exposed in broad daylight. It was January 1995; my twentieth birthday was approaching. The Great Hanshin Earthquake. No matter how much money you earned or how much you spent, even if you added in a thirty-year mortgage and built a house, we saw it all turn into a pile of rubble on the spot. Two months later Aum, portrayed on TV as a criminal organization, was refuting materialism and money worship; they were searching for a spiritual something. For me, who wanted new kinds of values, values that werent about money and objects, like I had been taught up until then, what they were doing looked awfully right. Then in 1995, in

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the midst of the confusion caused by the sarin certain was that if I gas attack and the earthquake, Nikkeiren [the Jadidnt think seriously pan Federation of Employers Associations] quiabout politics and etly put together a report called Japanese-Style society, I would plunge Management for a New Era, and we were left headlong into a period behind. The report proposed that working people in which I wouldnt be be divided into three groupsaccumulated exable to survive. perience, highly specialized, and flexible employmentand then used accordingly. It would make extensive revisions to the Worker Dispatch Law, and people who were already poor and precarious were forced into even deeper hardship.

The only thing that was

GOSen tauGht Me about Society FoR 370 yen

However, at that time, I didnt know anything. All I had was a premonition that I wouldnt be able to make a living for much longer. And thats exactly why I wanted to know about the future of this country. The only thing that was certain was that if I didnt think seriously about politics and society, I would plunge headlong into a period in which I wouldnt be able to survive. My favorite book at that time was Kobayashi Yoshinoris Gmanizumu sen gen.12 That was before his Sensron (Theory of war) had come out. At that time Gmanizumu sengen (Gsen) was packed with all the society issues that I wanted to know about, like AIDS caused by tainted blood transfusions and the Aum problem. There was no other way for me to get to know about the world. Even if I had known of other options, they probably would have been out of my reach at the time. Books sold at the bookshops that dealt with issues like politics or society were really thick, and easily cost close to 2000 yen. But Gsen was serialized in the weekly magazine SPA! which I could buy for 370 yen. I fiercely wanted to know: about this society that I was living in; about how to live in a society whose bottom was starting to fall out; about the reality of the postwar Japan in which we were living; and about the reason that I couldnt help feeling this suffering in the midst of what people called peace and prosperity. The year 1995 was fifty years after the end of World War II. With my eyes suddenly opened to society, I greedily devoured the news circulating about the war in the summer of that year. And I got a shock that I never recovered fromall those tragic images of war. And the fact that watching from inside my air-conditioned room fifty years after the war, I had never even thought

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about things like war up until then. Fifty years after the war, I was suffering in this country. What exactly was the war all about anyway?

i Saw the Sanctity i had FoRGotten in the RiGht-winG uniFoRM

This person might teach me. After Kobayashi Yoshinori, the next person to make me think that was the author Misawa Chiren. Having converted from left-wing to right-wing, he spent twelve years in prison for murder and the Molotov cocktail guerilla attack on the British Embassy, won a literary prize while incarcerated, and had only just gotten out of prison. And it was not only the literary world that he was involved in: at the time he also had a lot of work serialized in the magazine Subculture Angler and was always agitating for young people who were living among the obstacles of the centurys end. Not satisfied with acts of self-mutilation like piercing and tattoos, he said if you have anger or frustration, pick a fight with the state. I too was one of those young people who repeatedly cut my wrists as an act of self-mutilation. As he pointed out, I had anger. And frustration. Only I had no idea where to direct it. I joined the New Right organization, Totsugekitai, which he had profiled in the tattoo magazine BURST! Totsugekitai was introduced amid photos of dead bodies, piercings, full-body tattoos, and body modification. In postwar Japan, this trash dump of a place that I couldnt possibly have any faith in, this image of young people valiantly sporting their uniforms brought back a sanctity that I had long since forgotten. Before that, I had also gone to left-wing gatherings. But the language they used was difficult, and I had no idea what they were talking about. After that, the Totsugekitai meetings that I went to, with their simple language, drove away my depression.

in thiS countRy with nothinG but MateRialiStS and Money-woRShiPPeRS, itS no SuRPRiSe that younG PeoPle aRe SuFFeRinG!
I joined the organization. It was right before the mass restructuring and layoffs that took place at the beginning of the recession, when postwar Japans values collapsed with a clatter. At a time when the media was alive with stupid

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things like Make shabu shabu without using a pan! other young people like me were joining the organization. Until my teens, I thought that the future looked bright. I thought that I could live without worrying about going hungry and things like that if I just rode on the wave of the countrys economic growth. But my expectations proved wrong. No matter how you looked at it, the future was bleak. It had become an age in which the common sense and everything else that had prevailed up until then were no longer valid. At that time, the young people who joined the organization were of course all of the same generation as me, and most of them were freeters with junior high or high school educations. And there were also some avid readers of Gsen. We couldnt afford not to worry about where this country was headed, because it was really about ourselves. I was fed up with the propaganda that encouraged nothing but consumption despite being in such hard times. Floating along without being able to find a firm place in society, I constantly felt anxious. I wanted to belong somewhere. I couldnt feel any pride in myself as a member of the simple labor force, always being used and then thrown away. The words Japanese pride gently enveloped me. I seized a place for myself. In a rightwing organization. So we all came together like that in front of Ochanomizu Station. At the time, Totsugekitai was making speeches at that station. Among the young people joined together there were also some ex-followers of Aum, who had left the group in the disorder after the sarin gas attack. There was no meaning to life in this world, no way for us to make use of our lives, nothing that we could go so far as to stake our lives on.

dayS oF wild enthuSiaSM and theiR end (itS the SaMe aS the ldP. thatS not Punk!)
Thats how I became active in an organization that extolled anti-American patriotism. America was a great enemy. America, which killed Japanese people like worms during the war and trampled all over Japan after the war. We stood on the streets, proclaiming that because of America, Japanese people have lost their pride. I also learned the Yasukuni view of history that they dont teach you in school. Thinking that maybe the whole reason I was suffering was because I had received a mistaken postwar education and had been raised with mistaken values, the Yasukuni view of history penetrated deep inside me. After all, everything I had been taught in schooleverything that

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One person said that he wanted to die like the special attack corps. Thats how badly he wanted to be needed.

the adults around me saidwas just a big lie. I didnt want anything to do with a set of values in which something like the stagnation of the economy could so easily be lied about. I wanted something more certain, something more absolute that I could believe in. From the bottom of my heart. Something that wouldnt change no matter how much the Nikkei might fall, no matter how many banks might crash. Within the organization we formed a patriotic punk band; we raised a Japanese flag when we performed and sang the Japanese national anthem. During our live shows, audience members couldnt enter or leave the house. It enriched me. Having been nothing but a freeter who got paid around 900 yen an hour, I became confident that this was a group that could change society. I was no longer my old powerless self. I was also no longer unneeded. However, in 1999 at age twenty-four, in my second year of membership, I quit the organization. The year before that, in July 1998, Kobayashi Yoshinoris book Sensron was released. It was a theory of war that glorified that war and portrayed the kamikaze and other special attack corps courageously. For me, who had been raised on Gsen, the fact that this book had been published was the ultimate proof that I was right. In fact, it also became the talk of the organization, and we all chatted together about how great Sensron was. It felt like the era had finally caught up with us. It felt like a favorable wind had started to blow our way. We were not wrong. We, who had found patriotic ideas in the wasteland after the bubble burst, were right. And we knew it because Kobayashi had found the same thing. But before long, my enthusiasm wore off. Seeing that other young people around me, especially those who didnt belong to right-wing organizations, were also enthusiastic about Sensron planted a small seed of doubt within me. One person said that he wanted to die like the special attack corps. Thats how badly he wanted to be needed. The fact that someone would say such words demonstrated the extent to which we were not needed by society in any civilized way. Why, in this era that people called peace, did we have this longing to be like the suicide corps? That was the extent to which wed been robbed of an important something. I knew that much. But I didnt know what came next. In 1999, the National Flag and Anthem Acts were formulated. I had a vague sense that, step by step, the world that we were hoping for was actually drawing near. It felt uncomfortable. For us there was meaning in insisting on patriotism, as the antithesis of being absolute minorities, but when it came to

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promoting the state and seeing those policies actually carried out, I thought something seemed wrong. Then I also realized that I was dependent on the ideology. Maybe I was depending on it in order to deceive myself that I wasnt suffering? When I considered that, I quit the organization. The patriotic punk band also broke up around the same time. After all, how could a punk band that asserts the same things as the LDP13 even be considered punk?

a haRd look at SuFFeRinG in a Society that iS becoMinG RiGhtiSt

Even though I left the right-wing organization, there are still rightist-thinking young people around me. One point that is obviously different now is that, while my enemy was America, their enemies are China, South Korea, and North Korea. One person commented that the Chinese are stealing our jobs. Another person said that her eyes were opened to patriotic sentiment after the factory where she was working was moved to China and she lost her job. Hearing stories like that has recently made me remember something. Among the members of the organization I was in, there was one person who had occasion to work with Chinese and Koreans at his worksite. It was hard manual work. And I myself had once experienced a fear of Korean labor. It happened when I was twenty-two; I had already joined Totsugekitai. At that time, I made about 1200 yen an hour working at a sunakku.14 One of the girls from the place had quit, and when they started talking about hiring a new girl, the suggestion of hiring a Korean came up. The madam said something to the effect of, Actually, Id prefer a Japanese, but recently sales are falling, so a Korean that I can hire cheaply is better. Also, she said that there were a lot of pretty Korean girls, and that the customers teach the girls Japanese and the girls teach the customers Korean, so they often become popular with the clients. She continued like that, talking and sighing, The pay rate is expensive for Japanese. I felt like something about me had been totally rejected. I felt as though I had been told, Considering how useless they are, the pay rate is expensive for Japanese. I didnt know if I should feel apologetic or what I should feel. However, a Korean girl that can be hired cheaply was a threat to me at the time. I still remember that feeling of being trapped in a desperate situation. In the end, a Japanese was hired, and no Korean girl joined the staff. But if I had lost my job because of the appeal of Korean girls cheap wages, would I have still fixed my number one enemy as America?

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No matter how I tried, there were so many things I couldnt express well in words. I felt like the language that could explain this situation for me did not exist within right-wing ideology. I mean, even if they put the blame on Korea and China, maybe the enemy is to be found in a totally different place. In a world overwhelmed by globalization and dominated by a planet-wide ideology of survival of the fittest, I was experiencing competition at the lowest echelons of this country. Knowing nothing. That is exactly the reason why, when young people like the Net right wing 15 put the blame on Korea or China, I thought about what their everyday lives must be like. Maybe that everyday was a war zone where they were being forced to fight on the lowest rungs of international competition, without hope. Recently I heard the story of a guy who worked day-labor temp jobs. He said that at the site, if you couldnt do your job, somebody who appeared to be Chinese would say he cant do it and you would be transferred to a different type of work. At scrap employment jobs, unskilled day laborers are taking orders from on-site foreign workers. How many people really know that this is the real state of affairs all over this country? As for those days when I had nothing but the element of being Japanese with which to affirm myself, I dont want to dismiss that as the responsibility of some past self. However, a lot of people identified as leftists sneer at the opinions of people who become rightists, and sometimes simply berate them and make no effort to listen to them. I want people to open their ears and hear whats being said. Whether we are seeking it or not, Im sure that there is definitely something in there that has been lost. Notes
All notes are by the translator. 1. Atarashii kamisama (The new god), dir. Tsuchiya Yutaka (1999), DVD (Uplink, 2001); Peep TV Show, dir. Tsuchiya Yutaka (2004), DVD (Facets, 2006). 2. Kobayashi Takiji, Kani ksen (Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 2008); translated by Frank Motofuji in The Factory Ship and The Absentee Landlord (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973). 3. Norma Field, Commercial Appetite and Human Need: The Accidental and Fated Revival of Kobayashi Takijis Cannery Ship, The AsiaPacific Journal, newsletter 8, item 8, 2009 (February 22, 2009), Appetite_and_Human_Need__The_Accidental_and_Fated_Revival_of_Kobayashi_ Takiji_s_Cannery_Ship (accessed June 8, 2009). 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.

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6. Iki jigoku tengoku (Living hell heaven) (Tokyo: ta Shuppan, 2000); Jisatsu no kosuto (The cost of suicide) (Tokyo: ta Shuppan, 2002); Aku no Sjiku o tazunete (Visiting the Axis of Evil) (Tokyo: Gentsha, 2003). 7. Amamiya Karin, Ikitzurasa ga koesaseru say no kakine: Baburu no hkaigo no yakenohara nite, in Migi to hidari wa te o musuberu ka (Can the left and right join hands?), Rosujene / Lost Generation, May 2008: 4453. 8. The Japanese term freeter (furiitaa) comes from the English word free combined with the German word Arbeiter, meaning a part-time worker. The term is used in Japanese to refer to people without stable jobs, such as job-hopping part-time or temporary employees. 9. NEET is an abbreviation for Not currently engaged in Employment, Education, or Training. 10. Bszoku refers to Japanese youth motorcycle gangs. 11. OL, or office lady, refers to young women, typically unmarried, who tend to do pink collar work at offices and are considered likely to quit, or be pressured to quit, after marriage or childbirth. 12. Gmanizumu sengen is a manga series by Kobayashi Yoshinori. The title could be translated into English as declaration of arrogance. 13. The Liberal Democratic Party is Japans largest political party, which has ruled for the vast majority of time since its founding in 1955. 14. A sunakku (from snack) is one type of casual hostess bar. 15. Net right wing refers to people whose right-wing activities are conducted primarily, but not necessarily exclusively, over the Internet.

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